Relationship Education Valuable for Teens and Fits New ESSA Guidelines

Relationship Education Valuable for Teens and Fits New ESSA Guidelines

San Diego, CA—January 20, 2016—A new report on Relationship Education (RE) finds benefits for teens across the key relationships in their lives, and sheds light on RE as a means for meeting “Every Student Succeeds Act” (ESSA) guidelines.

Early Intervention: The Impact of Relationship Education on Youth—the most recent RE study published by Healthy Relationships California (HRC)—helps quantify the benefits of RE for adolescents across all of their relationships, including with friends, romantic partners, parents, and siblings. These benefits include reduced bullying and reduced partner violence, areas of concern for parents and school administrators across America.

The quantitative and qualitative data in the Early Intervention study come from surveys administered to nearly 7,000 youth who participated in research-based RE programs at high schools across California, during which they completed developmentally appropriate RE curricula in subjects including the characteristics of healthy vs. unhealthy relationships; empathic listening; effective confrontation; problem-solving skills; and conflict management.

The students described experiencing a positive impact in four key relationship factors:

            1. Dealing Successfully with Challenges and Conflict—82% of youth agreed that RE gave them the confidence to handle day-to-day challenges in their relationships;

            2. Developing Compassionate Problem-Solving Skills—78% reported being more respectful of others’ feelings after taking an RE course;

            3. Increasing Empathy—75% reported working harder after RE to ensure no one in a relationship with them gets hurt, emotionally or physically;

            4. Decreasing Negative Behaviors and Hostile Interactions—82% reported yelling and screaming less often, and 82% reported using hurtful and targeted insults less often after participating in RE.

“To succeed in society, children and adolescents need to acquire academic skills, but this focus is not enough for success as citizens and well-adjusted human beings,” explains Ross D. Parke, Distinguished Professor of Psychology, Emeritus, University of California, Riverside, in his Foreword to the findings. “The take home message of this report is that adolescents can benefit from a focus on social relationships, and that the school setting is a valuable context in which to offer this kind of intervention.”

“Seeing these positive results across all of their relationships, not just those with peers, is both exciting and important,” asserts HRC President Patty Howell. “This report makes it apparent that Relationship Education programs are a personal development strategy for young people that corresponds with the most fundamental goal of our education system—and with the goals of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act [Title IV SEC. 4108], to devote funding to activities that support safe and healthy students. These data confirm that RE teaches youth the foundational skills they need to create successful, safe, and healthy relationships, and that set them on a course to be happy and contributing members of society.”

To download Early Intervention: The Impact of Relationship Education on Youth, and more information about HRC’s RE programs, visit



Dyann Collins

TEL: 626.623.7036


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