School is the best way to reach 11-to-14-year-olds. Research shows that school programs influence healthy behavior in teens, and that kids with healthier behaviors do better in school. For some young teens, the classroom may be the only place in their lives where they receive health information, feel safe, or learn positive behavior.
Here are some tips for how to make room for your programming during the school day.
- Think Efficiency: Consider what’s already happening in your school system, like existing health programs and curriculum requirements for middle schools, and how healthy teen relationships and dating violence prevention fits into the mix.
- Incorporate Other Issues: If your school has a health class requirement, your administrators may consider fulfilling it with your healthy relationships curriculum, particularly if it incorporates other related topics like violence, substance use and sexuality.
- Accommodate Core Requirements: In school districts without a health class requirement, you may need to work with the school district and teachers to carve out time during core curriculum classes. For example, Start Strong Austin got their curriculum (Safe Dates) into classrooms by teaming up with science and social studies teachers and working around their testing schedules. In almost all cases, the teachers decided to implement the curriculum after students had completed standardized testing (April-May). Some teachers spread the lessons out of several weeks, while others saved them all for a dedicated two-week block at the end of the year.
- Find Your Champion: To be successful in implementing a curriculum, you need to find the right champion in your school or district—whether that be a school counselor, teacher or administrator. Your champion must be both willing to stand up for teen dating violence prevention and motivate others in the school system. Start Strong sites found champions in many places on a campus or in a district.