Newsletter: October 2005

Building Relationship Skills NewsletterOctober, 2005Dear Friends,Welcome back from what we hope was a restful summer! As a “Back to School” special, we are offering FREEshipping on any of our curricula (Love U2® and Connections) purchased before October 10 th. Also, below is exciting evaluation news about the Dibble Institute’s programs.Check out our website for our Fall Conference schedule. Please come by our booth and say “hello”. Let us know of conferences you think we should be attending.The Dibble Institute authors and outreach educators are now available for teacher in –services. Call 800-695-7975 for a needs analysis.Please let us know how we can be of further assistance to you.Keep up the good work!Best,Kay ReedPresident———————————————————————————————————Connections News:We are excited to announce that a Spanish language supplement of Connections: Relationships and Marriage will soon be available. All the student materials translated into Spanish (overheads, handouts, workbook, Kiersey sorter, game cards) will be included.Are you still using the original version of Connections: Dating and Emotions? Do you need student workbooks? We have 20 sets of this discontinued item for only $29. (Originally, $55) We will sell these at a first come first serve basis. Are you ready to update your old Connections: Dating and Emotions curriculum? Buy it today and save on shipping!This summer the Dibble Institute received an evaluation of Connections: Dating and Emotions from South Dakota State University . We are delighted to share the results with you below.For a full report, see the link below:———————————————————————————————————-Love U2® News:Now that all four Love U2® binders are completed, don’t forget that you can receive $100 off the entire package. Just submit proof of purchase and we will take $100 off your last binder.Check out the latest research findings on Love U2® – Relationship Smarts from Auburn University below! For the full report, see the link below:————————————————————————————————————New Resources:The Dibble Institute is constantly seeking to provide teachers with the best resources available. Check out the following new resources.100 Things Guys Need to KnowOne of the few resources just for boys, this unique book helps them navigate society’s mixed messages about being male. Engaging visuals, quotes from real boys, inspiring stories, survey results and anecdotes help involve young readers. Topics include family life, fitting in, showing emotions, bullies, school, peer pressure, failure, handling anger, and more. Includes discussion questions and resource list. illus., 128 pp. Free Spirit Publishing, 2005. Bill Zimmerman.* iParenting Media “Outstanding Products” WinnerSKU …TGNK…………….$14.95Red Flags: Avoiding Abusive Relationships DVD – What if dating were like football, where flags are thrown when the rules are broken? In this award-winning program, the Love Referee does just that, using his red flag system to stop the action when abusive dating situations develop. Play-by-play coverage of scenarios involving sexual pressure, manipulative and obsessive behavior, physical abuse, lying, and problem lifestyles help make it easier to recognize and avoid those pitfalls in real life. The overall message? Everyone deserves to be treated with respect and to feel safe on a date. DVD, 21 min, color. Meridian Educations, 2003.SKU …RF………$96.95————————————————————————————————————

Connections: Dating and Emotions

Evaluation Results

Executive SummaryThe Connections: Dating and Emotions (Connections) curriculum was evaluated in 10 high schools across the United States with over 500 students during the 2003-2004 school year. The sample contained an ethnically diverse cross-section of the country. Students both in the Connections class as well as a comparative Non-Connections class were surveyed both before and after the curriculum was taught. It is important to note that in the results discussed below, while the Connections students improved in the area in question, the Non-Connections students either did not improve or in many areas showed some deterioration.The results of the evaluation suggest that the Connections curriculum is particularly effective in improving students’ ability to resist sexual pressure. Additionally, the curriculum also appears to benefit students behaviorally by decreasing their negative behaviors in school, at home as well as in relationships with other students. Lastly, there are also some positive impacts on student attitudes toward positive relationship formation.KnowledgeThe Connections curriculum does appear to be effective in increasing the knowledge of key healthy relationship concepts.BehaviorsThe Connections curriculum is effective as a teen pregnancy prevention curriculum. Students improved significantly in their perceived ability to resist sexual pressure while those students not taking the curriculum remained unchanged. Students are more likely to communicate with their parents after taking the curriculum which further strengthens their likelihood of avoiding risky sexual activity.Students taking the curriculum also decrease their use of violence with their boyfriend or girlfriend, decrease their use of verbal aggression in the relationship, and decrease how often they get into trouble in school, and at home. Additionally, students report a significantly decreased acceptance of dating violence. These findings suggest that Connections may also be an effective violence prevention curriculum particularly in the area of boyfriend – girlfriend relationships.AttitudesThe Connections curriculum is effective in terms of improving attitudes. The curriculum has a significant and strong impact on student attitudes toward positive relationship formation. Students taking the Connections curriculum become much more likely to say they will take advantage of marriage preparation classes in the future, marriage enrichment classes after marriage, and marriage counseling if their marriage is in trouble. Students not taking this course remain unchanged in their likelihood of participating in such effective preventative interventions. The Connections students also seemed to remain unchanged in their level of self-esteem while the Non-Connections students significantly decreased in their levels of self-esteem over the same time period.In summary, the Connections: Dating and Emotions curriculum is effective as a teen pregnancy prevention curriculum. Additionally, the curriculum is effective at preventing future relationship and marriage difficulties by improving key attitudes that should lead to students participating in behaviors and activities which are protective against future marital distress, domestic violence and divorce. The curriculum also shows promise in reducing violence in relationships and negative behaviors at school and at home.———————————————————————-Looking Towards a Healthy Marriage:School-based Relationships Education Targeting YouthOverviewBuilding knowledge and skills among adolescents about healthy relationships is suggested as a means for prevention of unhealthy dating relationships and future unhealthy relationships, marital instability, and risky home environments for children. In 2004, the Alabama Cooperative Extension System’s Healthy Couples, Healthy Children Project (funded by the Alabama Child Abuse and Neglect Board) expanded marriage education programming into Alabama High Schools, using the Relationship Smarts curriculum (Pearson, 2004). To date a total of 218 adolescents have participated in the program and returned evaluation questionnaires. Another 125 adolescents completed questionnaires as control subjects. Participants were very receptive to the program content and demonstrated significant improvements in all measures of knowledge related to the program goals. These include greater awareness of healthy and unhealthy dating relationships, healthy relationship development and healthy marriages. Data collection is not yet complete for the participants and control group, however, indications are that participants are improving in desired ways and that participation may explain these changes.RationaleCouple conflict and intimate partner violence are not only experienced in the confines of adult committed relationships. Violence also occurs between dating partners, including adolescent dating partners. In Alabama , youth experience higher prevalence rates of victimization than the national average. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC, 2001) 12.9% of females and 7.6% of males were physically forced to have sexual intercourse compared to 10.3% of females and 5.1% of males, nationally; 13.2% of females and 14.1% of males were victims of dating physical violence, compared to 9.8% of females and 9.0% of males, nationally. It is apparent that victimization can occur not only between intimate partners but also when couples have just started dating. Violence can occur during adolescence, and both males and females can be either victims or perpetrators of violence toward their partner. Thus, since adolescents are still children, it appears that dating violence is another form of maltreatment against children requiring preventive efforts, yet is seldom addressed.Although there is risk of dating violence, it is important to recognize that dating is a normal part of life, can be quite positive, and has developmental purposes (e.g., mate selection) (Paul & White, 1990). In addition, studies have shown that adolescent dating builds self-competence and self-worth, provides opportunities to practice conflict management and negotiate trust, and opportunities to learn how to protect oneself from abusive relationships, and how to form and maintain healthy relationships (Collins, 2003). It is through dating that adolescents are learning how to become a healthy socially competent dating partner, which translates into becoming a healthy socially competent marriage partner as an adult. Over 90% of adolescents will marry during their lifetime and about half will divorce. Teaching relationships skills and information about healthy marriages is probably the most relevant course adolescents can take.Program overviewUsing the Relationship Smarts curriculum (Pearson, 2004), Alabama family and consumer science (FCS) teachers in several counties are facilitating classes on skills and knowledge necessary for healthy dating relationships, for making good choices about partners, and for later healthy couple and marital relationships. For the participants, our program goals are the reduction of the risk of maltreatment in dating relationships, an increase of knowledge of the characteristics of healthy relationships, and the promotion of future healthy relationships and marriages of these youth as they transition into adulthood and parenthood.Through funding by the Alabama Child Abuse and Neglect Board, faculty from Auburn University trained ten FCS teachers in the curriculum. In return for their materials and training the teachers were to offer the curriculum in their respective schools and return evaluation questionnaires from both participants and control subjects. To date eight of the ten have either started or completed their class offering. Presently, a total of 218 adolescents have completed the program. Participants are enrolled in the 9th – 12th grades in various Alabama High Schools. The average age of the participants was 16. The participant group was 74% female; 26% male; 51% were African American; 45% White; 4% other ethnicity. Nearly equal numbers lived in single parent families; stepfamilies, and nuclear families (32%, 25%; 33% respectively). One half of the participants reported that they had experienced their parents’ divorce. 63% of the participant students reported currently dating someone, with the median length of 6 months of dating that person. 125 control subjects were recruited by the teachers from their other class periods and did not participate in the curriculum, but did complete evaluation questionnaires at the same time points as the participants. The two groups did not differ significantly by gender or race and only slightly by age.Relationship Smarts Curriculum

  • Researched-based information and activities designed to enhance adolescents’ relationship knowledge and skills
  • Assumes that skills can be taught
  • Some adaptation
    • Increased interaction and activities
    • Added video on unhealthy, abusive relationships
    • Added “future orientation”
      • specific relationship skills and discussions of future marital relationships and issues related to marriage stability
    • eliminated material for younger audience

From StudentsWhen asked what they most enjoyed about the class:“Learning what love really means”“Finding out why we argue and why I act the way I act”“Getting to know good relationships and bad relationships better than I already did”“I felt this class will help me deal with some of the relationship problems I will undoubtedly encounter”“I enjoyed learning about how to avoid being in an abusive relationship”“It answered many questions I had about my relationships and helped to prepare my relationships for the future”“It helped me with some of the problems in my relationships. It also helped me with what to expect”“It was very informative, I learned things that seemed simple, but they were things I wouldn’t know if I didn’t take this class. I learned a lot more than I would have just by experience”“Learning how to deal with relationships and knowing what to do if you get caught in an unhealthy relationship”Summary and ConsiderationsThe initial pilot of a coordinated effort to implement relationships/marriage education for a diverse population of high schoolers is viewed as successful. Qualitative responses from the teachers and the students themselves suggest that the program content is well-received and judged to be relevant and valuable. Efforts to quantitatively document program impact indicate that students who participate in the Relationship Smarts program show increases in knowledge and understanding of various aspects of healthy relationships on all retrospective pre/post measures related to program objectives. On the comparison of true pre- post-program measures between participants and non-participants, questionnaires are still being collected and entered for controls. Once entered, these comparisons should provide additional evidence of program impact. Important lessons learned were gleaned from the initial experience and are being incorporated into the expansion of the project.