Copyright 2018 Marline E. Pearson Introduction Relationship Smarts PLUS-Sexual Risk Avoidance Adaptation (SRA) is a lively 13-lesson, evidence-based relationship skills curriculum for young teens. This curriculum embodies an innovative approach that addresses positive youth development, life skills, healthy relationships, dating violence, sexual delay, and sexual risk avoidance. These goals, typically addressed in separate programs, are integrated and embedded into one comprehensive healthy relationship skills program. Relationship Smarts PLUS-SRA builds assets and strengthens protective factors. It appeals to teenagers’ aspirations, rather than merely emphasizing what they must avoid. It empowers youth with skills needed to form and maintain healthy relationships, make wise sexual choices, and work toward their goals. All youth, regardless of sexual orientation, have attractions, emotions, and desires for healthy relationships. All youth benefit from sexual delay and risk avoidance. All youth need skills and knowledge to navigate their relationships and make wise sexual decisions. This is an LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum. Building Models and Confidence for Healthy Relationships Many young people today lack models of healthy relationships. A recent Child Trends survey of disadvantaged youth reported that while respondents could list general qualities for healthy relationships, and certainly aspired to have them, when asked if they actually saw many around them, the answer was “no.”1 Sadly, they had little confidence they would be able to achieve a healthy relationship because they didn’t know how—they didn’t have the skills. Relationship Smarts PLUS-SRA aims to build confidence and skills. It offers guidance on navigating the world of romantic relationships. Teens learn that healthy relationships begin with the individual— knowing one’s self, identifying personal strengths and weaknesses, understanding how one’s past influences the present, and the importance of setting goals for school, career, and personal life. Relationship Smarts PLUS-SRA offers knowledge of what a healthy relationship is and isn’t, as well as insights and skills for handling the early chemistry of attraction and choosing partners wisely. Teens learn the building blocks of healthy relationships and are encouraged to identify relationship qualities they find personally important. They are provided principles to guide them in early relationship development. Frameworks to assess relationships are employed to help teens in relationship decision- making. They are provided a low-risk strategy, the Decide, Don’t Slide! model, to guide them in reducing the potential for high-cost consequences of risky behaviors and attachment to problem people. Relationship Smarts PLUS-SRA builds teens’ awareness of the red flags of unhealthy and abusive relationships and sexual coercion. They learn how to exit those relationships safely. Teens are encouraged to set boundaries and practice drawing the line of respect at the first sign of disrespect in a relationship. Teens learn how to handle breakups and move forward. iii
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