BHR 6- middle school- day2-healthy and unhealthy relationships

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Building Healthy Relationships – Middle School Curriculum

Program 2


This program is designed to introduce youth, age 12-14, to issues of power, control and equality in relationships. This interactive program allows student to analyze different aspects of relationships, and to explore ways of building healthy relationships in their lives.

As a result of this program students will:

  1. Be able to correctly identify local resources for sexual assault, rape and domestic violence. (Specifically Middle Way House’s purpose and contact info)

  2. Be able to identify common traits of healthy relationships, and traits found in relationships based on power and control.

  3. Be able to understand and identify behaviors and attitudes that perpetuate abusive relationships, and strategies to change them.

Presenter Preparation:

  1. Power/ control and equality wheels handouts.

  2. Agree/Disagree signs.

  3. Healthy Relationships pamphlets

  4. Blank papers for anonymous questions

  5. Pencils/pens

Upon arrival:

  1. Arrange seating (if possible) to facilitate discussion. All students should be able to see the presenter (e.g. semi-circle).

  2. Write on the board:

Middle Way House

(812) 336-0846 24/7 crisis line




  • Introduce yourself personally. Explain briefly what your role is at the MWH/Rise.

  • If an OSA is available they should introduce themselves, and explain their role. Explain that some of the information we will discuss can be upsetting, and anyone should feel free to step out if uncomfortable. The OSA will follow anyone out the classroom in case they want to talk. OSAs should assure confidentiality.


  • Ask by show of hands how may students have heard of the Middle Way House. Ask those who raised their hands to share what they know.

  • Explain that MWH is a non-profit organization committed to fighting gender violence. The Middle Way House encompasses a number of services:

  • An emergency shelter for women and children who need a safe place to stay because of violence at home.

  • A rape crisis center with trained advocates that meet people that have experienced sexual assault at the hospital and on scene (if the perpetrator has been arrested). The advocates also are available for phone support. The advocates are available 24/7. This service is available to all genders.

  • A crisis line available 24/7 for people to receive support, ask questions, receive resources regarding relationships, domestic violence and sexual assault. Indicate the number on the board and explain the free, anonymous, confidential concepts. This service is available to all genders.

  • Rise transitional housing. For women and children that have experience domestic violence. It is a 28 unit building where families can reside for up to two years.

  • Free legal consultation e.g. help filing for protective orders or divorce. Legal advocates also accompany survivors to court.

  • Education and prevention programs like the one we are presenting today.


  • Ground Rules

Ask the class what kind of ground rules they would like to have for our discussion. We want it to be a safe place for people to voice their opinions and learn from each other.

If they have not said it already, add:

  • Agree to disagree.

We may have strong opinions, and it is ok for people to disagree.

  • Respect.

  • Confidentiality.

What is said in the room stays in the room

  • Why are we here?

We are here today to talk about healthy and unhealthy relationships. We are not here to tell you whether you should be in a relationship or having sex. We are here to have a discussion and share information.

2. Brainstorming and Evaluating Types of Relationships

Ask students to list different types of relationships. Some examples include: parent-child, student-teacher, friendship, and significant others. Write them on the board.

Then discuss with students what kinds of inherent power exist in these relationships.

Ask: Who has the power? How is it determined? Examples may include size, authority, gender and age.

Evaluate each example given by students as equal or unequal. Ask students to decide.

  • Ask: Can an unequal relationship still be respectful? (Yes it can. Examples include parent-child or student-teacher.)

  • Ask: Can an equal relationship be disrespectful? (Yes it can. Examples include significant others or friends.)

  1. Healthy and Unhealthy Relationships–power/control AND EQUALITY wheels

  • Ask students to break into small groups and make a list of characteristics of a healthy relationship and characteristics of an unhealthy relationship. Walk around the room and ask if anyone needs help. Have students share their lists and write answers on the board.

  • After you have debriefed each list, distribute the Power and Control Wheel and the Non- Violence Wheel. Go over these and answer any questions.


This activity will give the students an opportunity to think about what they want from a dating partner, and also what kind of partner they want to be in a relationship. The youth can establish their own basic rules for a relationship based on equality and respect.

  • Ask students to write on a piece of paper individually: “ What I want in a relationship“, and “What I will offer in a relationship”

  • Let the students brainstorm for ~5 min.


  • Ask students to share some of the expectations they have written down, write them on the board.

  • Read the student’s answers

  • Ask: How can you learn about a potential dating partner?

  • What kind of behaviors or attitudes will tell you how a person is in the context of a relationship?


  • How does the person act at school or at work?

  • How does the person act then you are alone with him/her?

  • How does she/he show happiness?

  • How does this person communicate with you in private, in front of friends, on the phone and in e-mail?

  • How does this person talk about female and male roles, relationships, their family, etc?

  • How does he/she resolve differences? Conflict?

  • How do you feel about yourself when you are with this person?

  • What does your friends/family think of your potential dating partner?


The human thermometer, or line game, asks students to place themselves standing on an imaginary line in the room based on their opinions about a statement.

Ask students to stand. Have enough space around the room for them to move around freely. Designate one side of the room “agree”, and one side “disagree”. Explain to students you will read a statement and they should decide whether they agree, disagree, or are somewhere in between and stand in the room accordingly.


  • Violence happens often in teenage dating relationships


Approximately one in five female high school students reports being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner.

As many as one-third of high school and college-age youth experience violence in intimate relationships during their dating years.

Dating violence is only physical violence


Dating violence is a pattern of assaultive and controlling behaviors that one person uses against another in order to gain or maintain power in the relationship. The abuser intentionally behaves in ways that cause fear, degradation and humiliation to control the other person. Forms of abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional, psychological and financial.

  • Using alcohol or other drugs is a cause of dating violence


Alcohol or other drugs are usually an excuse used to justify the abuser’s use of violence. The cause of dating violence is the abuser making the choice to engage in violent behavior. Substance abuse and dating violence are two different issues that need to be addressed separately.

  • Teenagers will rarely tell someone about dating violence when it happens to them


Teenagers are usually reluctant to disclose they are victim of abuse to adults. Some reasons might include: Resources might be unavailable to teens without parent involvement, they may not trust adults, they might fear retaliation, they may fear no one will believe them, they may feel others will blame them, they may believe they can stop the abuse on their own, they may fear reaction of parents.

  • If the police are called when dating violence is committed, the person that has suffered the abuse has to press charges for an arrest to occur.


If the police believe that an assault has occurred (based on the individuals’ statements, possible witnesses, demeanor of one or both parties, any property destruction, etc.), they can make a warrant-less arrest of the abuser. The victim will not press charges against the abuser. The prosecutor, not the victim, has the sole responsibility for deciding whether or not to press charges against the abuser.


Pass out blank pieces of paper. Ask students to write a question or comment on the piece of paper. Instruct students to NOT write their names on the piece of paper. Be sure everyone turns in a piece of paper even if they do not have a question to ensure the questions remain anonymous. Answer the questions in class. If you don’t have enough time, tell them you will send answers to the school.

1 Comment so far
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This is quite a hot information. I’ll share it on Delicious.

Comment by Liza

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