Frequently Asked Questions

What about gay and lesbian youth? How can they participate?

All young people deserve to be treated with respect. Furthermore, relationship skills are important for everyone, regardless of sexual orientation. Our programs are very inclusive. Our language is gender neutral and we don’t assume the gender of the young person’s partner. We also include gay/lesbian scenarios in various role plays. Our programs have been recently used as a suicide prevention intervention with GLBTQI youth in Colorado.

TDI has and enforces a policy prohibiting discrimination of services in the basis of age, disability, sex, race, color, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

Why do young people need a course in relationship skills?

  • To learn how to handle the social and romantic upheavals of adolescence without harming themselves or others.
  • To gain the skills needed for healthy friendships, dating and ultimately, a good marriage or partnership.
  • To clarify their long term personal goals, learn how to meet these goals, and identify behaviors that can derail their plans.

Most adolescents are totally preoccupied with relationships and romance – friendships, crushes, dating, sex, jealousy, and heartbreak. At best, this interferes with their education – at worst, it leads to serious, long term problems. Sadly, most  young people are unprepared to handle these adolescent challenges in healthy ways. While some have good role models at home, many know only relationship failure and dysfunction in their families and communities. Without positive alternatives, teens depend on popular culture to shape their beliefs about dating, love, and marriage. Predictably, they often choose behaviors that sabotage their futures. Today, it’s clear that teens and young adults can be taught about healthy relationships, especially romantic relationships.  Within this context, teens are surprisingly willing to practice positive interpersonal skills, explore realistic expectations and learn productive ways to meet their goals.

What will you be teaching?

Dibble Institute programs give teens what they can’t find anywhere else – the unbiased knowledge, practical skills, and strategies to enjoy healthy relationships during their teen years and later in life. Some of the topics covered in our courses include:

  • What healthy relationships look like and why they matter.
  • How to communicate effectively and manage conflict;
  • What’s important to look for in a romantic partner;
  • Understanding crushes and infatuations;
  • Successful dating strategies;
  • How to gauge the health and safety of a relationship;
  • Ways to handle sexual pressures, bullying, rejection and jealousy;
  • What research says about early sexual involvement, cohabitation, single parenting, marriage;

To find course summaries, outlines, and sample lessons for all our curricula, see our Free Resources listed on the home page.

Do these programs really make a difference?

Despite their reputation as reluctant students, teens (both boys and girls) are easily engaged by classes that concern romantic relationships.  They willingly participate in activities, learn skills, explore expectations, and practice new behaviors. Many of our programs have been professionally researched and evaluated. From these studies, we now know that teaching teens how to navigate their romantic lives helps them in numerous ways.  They reduce risky behaviors (aggression, verbal abuse, sexual activity) and increase protective behaviors (connections with parents, awareness of healthy behaviors) right away.

Click here for more details on the impact of Dibble courses.

How are Dibble programs different from other kinds of relationship education – like anti-bullying or dating violence?

Many programs teach teens how to handle problems like bullying, dating violence, and teen and unplanned pregnancy. Dibble materials also cover this material, but with important differences.

  • We help teens understand these issues in the broader context of healthy relationships, especially romantic relationships. This focus directly reflects adolescent interests and remains relevant whether they’re beginning to date, already involved, or considering a potential committed partner.
  • We teach healthy relationship skills as a strategy for reaching positive goals, not just avoiding specific problems.
  • We emphasize the social and emotional aspects of sex rather than the physical details of a “sex ed” program. How do you really get to know someone? What does sex mean to you? What happens to relationships when sex comes too early? These are the questions we want young people to consider.
  • All the information we teach is based on serious, up to date research from leading academic and government entities.  We make every effort to remain unbiased and free from religious or other agendas.

Why all the talk about marriage? Are you encouraging youth to get married young?

Quite the opposite.  We encourage young people to stay in school and wait until they’re mature enough for marriage and family.

Research shows that, even today, most teens and young adults aspire to a future of satisfying work, marriage, and family – but they have little sense of what’s required to meet these goals. When young people (middle school through college) get accurate information about romance and learn positive relationship skills, they generally understand the downsides of too early marriage. Our data, both qualitative and quantitative, reports that after participating in a Dibble program, teens will often leave unhealthy relationships. They tell us that they have decided to wait until they are more mature and prepared before entering a committed relationship like marriage.

Are you against divorce?

No. The Dibble Institute is only concerned about divorces that may be avoidable and that harm the children involved.

On average, 30% of divorces are due to high conflict or abuse of self, others, or substances. When these marriages dissolve, children are usually better off. But 70% of divorces take place in low-conflict marriages. While the couple may not be perfectly happy, their children experience normal, non-damaging family dynamics. When these couples split up, kids suffer not once, but continuously throughout their lives. The foundation of their lives, their parents and family has been taken away. Children from disrupted families find life twice as hard for themselves. Research shows that they are more likely to drop out of school, become pregnant, or become involved in the juvenile justice system than their peers in intact families (and divorce impacts children regardless of their parents’ financial circumstances or educational background. Our materials help teens understand the serious damage that can result, especially to children, when they don’t select partners carefully.

How do you handle the topic of sex? Do you favor abstinence or comprehensive sex education?

Dibble primarily focuses on healthy romantic relationship skills. In the few instances where we address sex, the lessons focus on the emotional and social implications of sex rather than physical health and safety. They are compatible with both abstinence and conventional sex education. Our lessons on the topic of sex enhance both approaches, and are used in both types of settings. We also use research as a guide for helping teens understand that early sex is problematic. For example it typically hinders genuine relationship development, or worse, glues teens to bad relationships. For girls, it is not likely to deliver the affection, connection, respect, or love that is desired.

Why do you have several different courses on the same content?

Although most of our curricula teach core topics in relationship skills, each program is quite unique in youth served, focus, and instructional approach. Our wide selection helps you find a close match with your teaching style, time constraints, classroom resources, and other requirements – as well as the needs of your students. We also have programs targeted to different age groups and life situations.  This lets you reinforce learning by teaching fresh, age appropriate courses over a period of several years.

To help you make the best choice, you’ll find free sample lessons for all Dibble curricula on our website.  If you would like personal assistance, just give us a call at 800-695-7975.

Where do you get your funding?

The Dibble Institute is an independent, not-for profit organization, primarily funded through sales of curricula we develop. Other funding comes from selling related teaching materials, and from grants such as the federal Healthy Marriage Demonstration Grant. We gratefully accept donations from individuals and organizations who want to support our work. We also utilize volunteers in focused ways and appreciate in-kind gifts. For more information, please contact Kay Reed, Executive Director: KayReed@DibbleInstitute.org.

Why do you charge for your materials?

The Dibble Institute is a non-profit organization. All the proceeds from our materials go back into research and new product development.

Apart from developing curricula, what else does the Dibble Institute do?

In addition to developing and distributing teaching materials, Dibble works to advocate for and promote youth relationship education. For example we:

  • Present free Second Wednesday Webinars focusing on topics of interest to the field.
  • Serve as a clearinghouse for youth relationship education – research, trends, grants, programs and general information.
  • Inform community and educational leaders in the benefits of relationship education.
  • Train teachers and others in using the Dibble programs.
  • Advocate for including relationship education in school curricula.
  • Consult on implementation strategies for teaching youth relationship skills.
  • Publish a free online newsletter.