Relationship Smarts PLUS (SRA) – More Info

Length: 13 Lessons

Ages: 12-16

What is Relationship Smarts Plus SRA?

Relationships Smarts Plus Sexual Risk Avoidance (RQ+ SRA) is an adaptation of Relationship Smarts Plus 3.0. The curriculum is designed to build assets and strengthen protective factors for younger teens as they develop healthy relationships skills. It appeals to teenagers’ aspirations, rather than merely emphasizing what they must avoid. It empowers youth with ways to learn more about themselves, such as how their past has shaped the present, how to set goals, and how to identify steps needed to move towards those goals.

Throughout the curriculum’s 13 lessons, young people learn how to deal with pressure situations, examine friendships and clarify values, and further their own maturity. Teens acquire skills and insights for building healthy relationships, including communication and conflict management skills, as they are empowered with strategies to make healthy choices that will boost sexual delay, reduce risky behaviors, resist sexual coercion, and avoid dating violence.

RQ+ SRA takes a heart-based approach and provides unique ways to tap into the motivation to choose sexual delay or choose to recommit to sexual delay. RQ+ SRA offers an array of activities for thinking about what is personally important and for exploring the themes of love, intimacy, and sexual meaning. They are encouraged to define a context for sex that is protective of their aspirations and to set boundaries and clear intentions about relationships and sex. They learn the benefits of self-regulation and making decisions versus “sliding,” and they develop the accompany skills and strategies to do so. Teens acquire skills to resist sexual coercion, assert their intentions, develop plans, and practice these techniques through role-playing for how to stay true to their intentions (or to reset their boundaries and stay true to new intentions).

Who is it designed to reach?

RQ SRA is designed for young teens (middle school and early high school). It was developed with an eye for vulnerable teens. But most would find the curriculum applies to all teens because all youth, regardless of race-ethnicity, sexual orientation, or socio-economic class, have attractions, emotions, and desires for connection and healthy relationships. All youth benefit from sexual delay and risk avoidance. All youth need self-awareness, skills, and knowledge to navigate their relationships and to make wise sexual choices.

Parent-Teen Connection activities found in each lesson allow participants to enlist parents or trusted adults as partners. They offer conversation starters and talking points on healthy relationships and on the benefits of leaving sex out of teen relationships.

This is an inclusive curriculum in terms of images, youth created-narratives and poems, music and visual media, and real-life scenarios for activities. Diverse youth (including males and LGBTQ youth) were part of creating the resources used in RQ SRA.

What’s New with RQ+ SRA?

RQ+ SRA has strong and consistent messages on sexual delay. And while the risks of teen sexual involvement are directly addressed, more time is devoted to the positive gains of leaving sex out of youthful relationships. It uses believable and culturally relevant examples (narratives, media clips, stories) to show the benefits of sexual delay (or recommitting to delay). The program also teaches strategies for enjoying teen romantic relationships without adding sex.

The adaptation also pays greater attention to the Success Sequence (education, employment, marriage, and then children) for reducing the chance of future poverty.

RQ+ SRA’s lessons also provide more opportunities for practicing self-regulation skills, responding to pressure situations and sexual coercion, asserting intentions, changing course, and recommitting to leaving sex out of their teen relationships.

What does RQ+ SRA include?

RQ+ SRA uses popular media, the voices of youth, and lively activities to engage young teens in learning. Key topics include:

  • Importance of better understanding one’s self (life mapping): What experiences have helped or created challenges, identifying supports, setting goals, and outlining steps to move towards those goals.
  • All about healthy relationships and love: Handling initial attractions, guides for what to pay attention to in choosing partners, how to assess a relationship and whether it is healthy, and breaking up and moving forward.
  • Strategies and frameworks for making decisions vs. sliding
  • Skills and practice for self-regulation, better communication, and conflict management
  • Greater awareness of risky situations and dealing with pressure situations of all types (such as alcohol or pornography) as well as sexual coercion.
  • Better understanding dating violence, including warning signs, types, and strategies to steer clear or exit safely.
  • Exploring intimacy more deeply, sexual meaning, and real love.
  • Setting intentions and make clear plans for actions/behaviors to stay true to intentions to delay or change course.
  • Better understanding the steps of the success sequence, how and why it can help youth reduce chances of poverty, and how to follow it.
  • Examining unplanned pregnancy though the eyes of a child.
  • Considering the role of males in family formation.

How does RQ+ SRA Meet Sexual Risk Avoidance Guidelines?

  • The material teaches that avoidance of non-marital sexual activity offers the best opportunity for optimal sexual health.
  • Language that could potentially normalize teen or unmarried sexual activity is not included.
  • Other youth risk behaviors are addressed.
  • The curriculum does not demonstrate, simulate, or distribute any contraceptive device.

What’s the evidence behind Relationship Smarts Plus?

RQ+ SRA is an adaptation of Relationship Smarts PLUS 3.0, an evidence-based curriculum included in the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Registry for Evidence-based and Promising Practices, or NREPP. The curriculum has been demonstrated to reduce teen dating violence and abuse and to increase youth’s assets.