Research Updates

These resources provide current research on a variety of relationship education topics. Topics include ‘Cohabitation and Marriage,’ ‘Dating Violence,’ ‘Dropout Issues,’ ‘Family Structure,’ ‘Peer Influence,’ ‘Supports for Dibble Programs,’ ‘Sex and Relationship Education,’ ‘Sexting,’ ‘Teen Parents,’ ‘Teen Sexual Activity,’ and ‘Teen Well-being and Development.’


Cohabitation & Marriage

Teen Attitudes About Marriage and Family

Future trends in family are reflected in the opinion of teenagers, where both sexes have consistently desired “a good marriage and family life” for several decades now, although boys are less desirous than girls of these things. Boys are also a little less optimistic than girls about the prospect of lifelong marriage. Both sexes are increasingly more accepting of alternative lifestyles, including nonmarital childbearing, cohabitation, or remaining single.

High School Seniors’ Attitudes Towards Cohabitation and MarriageBowling Green State University

Although the share of high school seniors who expect to marry at some point in the future has remained constant over the past four decades, the share of adults who do marry has decreased significantly, indicating a disconnect between marital expectations and behavior.

FP-19-12 – High School Seniors’ Ideal Time for Marriage, 2017

FP-19-11 – High School Seniors’ Expectations to Marry, 2017

FP-19-10 – High School Seniors’ Attitudes Toward Cohabitation as a Testing Ground for Marriage, 2017

Less Stable, Less Important: Cohabiting Families’ Perspectives Across the Globe

A growing number of children in developed countries today are being raised by parents who are living together but not married. Some argue that cohabiting parents provide a family environment that is comparable to a married household, given that the children are being raised by two adults. However, a new survey of 11 developed countries shows that large shares of cohabiting couples with children under age 18 doubt that their current relationship will last, especially in comparison to married parents. Moreover, cohabiting parents in most countries are less likely than married parents to see their relationship as a vital part of their life.

Divorce, Co-Parenting and KidsChild Trends

About one in three children living in the United States are growing up in a single-parent home. And among divorced couples with young children, moms are still more likely to have custody of kids after a split. New research supports the theory that when moms and dads maintain a better co-parenting relationship, kids may be less likely to act out. 

Cross-National Comparisons of Union Stability in Cohabiting and Married Families With Children

Increases in cohabitation, nonmarital childbearing, and partnership dissolution have reshaped the family landscape in most Western countries. The United States shares many features of family change common elsewhere, although it is exceptional in its high degree of union instability. In this study, we use the Harmonized Histories to provide a rich, descriptive account of union instability among couples who have had a child together in the United States and several European countries.

The Economics of Non-Marital Childbearing and The “Marriage Premium for Children”

A large literature exists on the impact of family structure on children’s outcomes, typically focusing on average effects. We build on this with an economic framework that has heterogeneous predictions regarding the potential benefit for children of married parents. We propose that the gains to marriage from a child’s perspective depend on a mother’s own level of resources, the additional net resources that her partner would bring, and the outcome-specific returns to resources. In terms of high school completion or avoiding poverty at age 25, the “marriage premium for children” is highest for children of mothers with high school degrees and mothers in their early/mid-20s. For the more advanced outcomes of college completion or high income at age 25, the marriage premium is monotonically increasing with observed maternal age and education.

Dating Violence

Teenage Girls and Dating Violence: Why We Should Be Paying AttentionCDC Logo

It’s no secret that intimate partner violence is a leading killer of women in the United States: More than half of homicides of women are at the hands of a romantic partner, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Now it appears that this type of violence is also affecting adolescent girls.

Sexual Intercourse Precedes Partner Violence in Adolescent Romantic Relationships

This study examined whether psychological or physical violence between adolescent romantic partners is associated with the sexual intercourse status of the couple. The researchers found that violent victimization was more likely to occur in romantic relationships that included sexual intercourse. In relationships characterized by both sexual intercourse and violence, sexual intercourse was significantly more likely to precede violence rather than the reverse, regardless of type of violent act.

Teen Dating Violence Can Lead To Homicide — Girls Are The Most Common VictimsUniversity of Washington

Domestic violence is common among adults, and women are most frequently the victims. In fact, nearly half of women killed by homicide in the United States are killed by their former or current intimate partners. Now a new study finds that this kind of violence also poses a risk to the lives of adolescent girls.

Beliefs About Sexual Consent Among High School Students

This report highlights important discrepancies in adolescents’ definition of sexual consent—primarily through verbal consent—and how they behaviorally indicated sexual consent and sexual refusal—primarily through nonverbal actions.

Family Structure

Family Instability Influences Adolescents’ Aggression

A new brief examines the link between family instability during childhood and social competence and aggression in adolescence. Adolescents who had less family stability during childhood were more aggressive than their peers with stable families, regardless of family income level.

Why Paternal Involvement MattersChild Trends

One out of every three kids in America lives in a home in which their biological father is not present. Many studies focus on how a mother’s involvement in her child’s life affects their brain development, but how does a dad’s involvement affect a child?

Childhood Family Structure and Wealth AccumulationEuropean University Institute

Childhood family structure is a commonly studied determinant of child and adult outcomes. Wealth is affected by a wide variety of factors, including human capital formation, family dynamics, and intergenerational transfers. Based on data from the 1979 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, individuals who continuously lived with both biological parents during childhood had more wealth as adults than those who did not. This observation held for all of the different childhood family structures. Additional tests revealed that differences in wealth among the different family structures were not statistically significant.

Adolescent Connectedness and Adult Health OutcomesCDC Logo

According to a new CDC study published in in Pediatrics, youth who feel connected at home and at school were less likely to experience health risk behaviors related to mental health, violence, sexual health, and substance use in adulthood. These findings suggest that increasing both school and family connectedness during adolescence through school, family, and community-based approaches can potentially have a powerful impact on health outcomes later in life.


How To Talk To Your Kids About The Danger Of SextingUniversity of Calgary

Sexting among teens may not be the epidemic parents have been warned about, but despite education efforts and cautionary tales, it’s still, unfortunately, pretty common. While experts differ on statistics, a research report in the June 2019 edition of JAMA Pediatrics found that at least one in four teens receive sexually explicit texts and emails. At least one in seven teens send “sexts.”

Sex & Relationship Education

Are RE Programs for Lower-Income Individuals & Couples Working?

Over the past decade, more than 50 evaluation studies have examined the effectiveness of the Healthy Marriage and Relationships Education (HMRE) programs, including three ACF-funded, large-scale, multisite, random-assignment evaluations. Growing evidence shows that couples can learn to reduce destructive conflict and experience less physical and emotional abuse, and that these programs can improve couples’ positive communication skills, understanding, warmth, support, and co-parenting.

What Young People Say They Want Most In A PartnerUniversity Of Swansea UK

What do humans really want in a long-term partner? If people were given a limited menu of characteristics from which to choose, what would be the non-negotiables? And how much of what we value in a partner is influenced by culture and how much is innate? In a nifty new report out of the University of Swansea in the U.K., researchers got 2,700 college students from five countries to progressively narrow down which characteristics were most important to them in a lifetime mate, and the one that emerged from all cultures was kindness.

Teen Parents

Teen Birth Rates Continue to DeclineCDC Logo

The provisional birth rate for teenagers in 2018 was 17.4 births per 1,000 women aged 15-19, down 7% from 2017, and another record low for this age group. The rate has declined by 58%, or nearly 8% per year, since 2007, the most recent period of continued decline, and 72% since 1991, the most recent peak. The number of births to females aged 15-19 was 179,607 in 2018, down 8% from 2017 and down 60% from 2007.

The Father Factor: A Critical Link in Building Family ProsperityAscend Aspen Institute

This report summarizes critical themes and practical examples that surfaced at the convening to increase father engagement for the well being of children, families, and communities.

Teen Well-Being & Development

Teens Who Don’t Date Are Less Depressed

Dating, especially during the teenage years, is thought to be an important way for young people to build self-identity, develop social skills, learn about other people, and grow emotionally. Yet new research from the University of Georgia has found that not dating can be an equally beneficial choice for teens. The study, published online in The Journal of School Health, found that adolescents who were not in romantic relationships during middle and high school had good social skills and low depression, and fared better or equal to peers who dated.

Teen Girls’ Reproductive Attitude and the Timing of Sexual BehaviorsBowling Green State University

When making decisions about sexual behaviors, teen girls consider not only health outcomes, such as pregnancy or contracting a sexually transmitted infection (STI), but also social outcomes, such as guilt or embarrassment. This study shows that fear of social consequences rather than fear of pregnancy or STIs is a larger predictor of the timing of teen girls’ sexual activity.

What We Can Do About Toxic StressHarvard Logo

Toxic stress is a very serious issue, but it is not the end of the story. Toxic stress doesn’t have to lead to negative outcomes. No matter who you are, there are concrete actions you can take to help prevent the effects of toxic stress and support those who have experienced them. This new infographic shows how individuals, communities, and policy-makers can lessen the burden of toxic stress. View the infographic to learn more

Bullying Among Adolescents Hurts Both The Victims And The PerpetratorsMartin Luther University
About a tenth of adolescents across the globe have been the victims of psychological or physical violence from their classmates. In a new study researchers show that victims and their perpetrators both suffer as a result of these attacks: They are more inclined to consume alcohol and tobacco, are more likely to complain of psychosomatic problems and their chances of having problems with their social environment increase, too.

School Mindfulness Programs Can Help Students Cope With Stress

Among mental health practitioners, researchers, educators, and even the media, mindfulness practices are gaining popularity as a method to help children and youth cope with stress. A growing body of research suggests that mindfulness interventions in schools can boost children’s ability to regulate emotions and manage their feelings of stress.

The Way U.S. Teens Spend Their Time is Changing, but Differences Between Boys and Girls Persist

Teens today are spending their time differently than they did a decade ago. They’re devoting more time to sleep and homework, and less time to paid work and socializing. But what has not changed are the differences between teen boys and girls in time spent on leisure, grooming, homework, housework and errands, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

Adolescents’ Daily Romantic Experiences and Negative MoodArizona State Univercity

Romantic relationships, although increasingly normative during adolescence, also present unique developmental challenges that can portend psychological difficulties. Underlying these difficulties may be the degree to which daily romantic transactions potentiate fluctuations in negative mood. The present study examined associations between adolescents’ daily romantic relationship experiences and their same-day negative affective states.

Having a Teen ‘Bestie’ Can Predict Satisfaction in Adult Romantic RelationshipsUniversity of Virginia

A nearly two-decade study from the University of Virginia has found that adolescents who had healthy same-gender relationships can look forward to satisfying romantic relationships in adulthood. It turns out that things like physical attractiveness or the amount of romantic or sexual experience as a teen did not predict future romantic fulfillment.

Mitigating the Effects of Childhood TraumaRutgers University Camden

Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) can lead to mental health disorders in adolescence, and healthy family functioning and civic engagement can mitigate such damaging impact, according to a new Rutgers University–Camden study.

Most U.S. Teens See Anxiety and Depression as a Major Problem Among Their Peers

Anxiety and depression are on the rise among America’s youth and, whether they personally suffer from these conditions or not, seven-in-ten teens today see them as major problems among their peers.

How Bullying Affects The Structure Of The Teen Brain

The effects of constantly being bullied are more than just psychological. Research now shows that there may be physical structural differences in the brains of adolescents who are regularly victimized, and this could increase the chance that they suffer from mental illness.

Teen Depression Treatment Should Extend to Parents’ MarriageNorthwestern University seal

A new study has found that teen depression can affect parents’ marital satisfaction. Parents often seek mental health treatment for a child struggling with depression, but the treatment shouldn’t stop with the depressed teen. The study found that while depressed teens were involved in active treatment, parents’ marriages and parent-child conflict remained stable, but slightly worsened once the teens’ treatment had finished.


Cohabitation & Marriage

Cohabitation, Churning, and Children’s Diverging Destinies

Heather Rackin and Christina Gibson-Davis’s recent study highlights one of the mechanisms through which today’s family patterns result in greater economic difficulties: cohabitation. Rackin and Gibson-Davis explain how the rise in cohabitation has disadvantaged children of lower and moderately-educated mothers more than children whose mothers have a college degree.

Decision to Live Together Negatively Affects Wealth Accumulation

The study, published in the Journal of Financial Planning, found people who cohabited had less wealth compared with those who never lived together before marriage. The gap in wealth grew significantly for those who cohabited multiple times.

Mental Well-Being Differences in Cohabitation and Marriage: The Role of Childhood Selection

This study demonstrates the importance of early childhood conditions for understanding the relationship between cohabitation, marriage, and mental well-being. It provides further evidence that early childhood conditions are important for understanding later life well-being. Overall the results suggest that to improve mental well-being, policy makers should focus on reducing the adverse effects of disadvantage in childhood and improving mental well-being in adolescence rather than increasing incentives to marry in adulthood.

Dating Violence

Teen Boys Report More Dating Violence Than Girls, Perplexing Scientists

Over the past ten years, Canadian researchers have been collecting data on one dark corner of society: teen-dating violence. What they describe in their new study in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence may seem surprising, given society’s gender stereotypes. Boys, they show, are victims of personal dating violence, and in some cases are more often so than girls.

The Preventable Problem that Schools Ignore

Educators are ill-equipped to help victims of dating violence. Nearly 1.5 million high-school students in the U.S. are physically abused by dating partners ever year. 35 percent of 10th-graders have been abused by dating partners and a similar percentage are perpetrators of such abuse. Greatest risk students are from low-income backgrounds, marginalized racial and ethnic groups, and LGBTQ students.

Adolescents who experienced teen dating violence were more likely to report being bullied on school grounds and missing school due to feeling unsafe. Victims are also more likely to experience depression, anxiety, and consider suicide – negatively affecting academic achievement.

The Cost & Consequences of Sexual Violence in California

Families, friends, partners, neighbors, and co-workers know first-hand the time and resources necessary to recover from sexual violence. However, never before has there been a comprehensive quantitative analysis of both tangible and intangible costs to the state resulting from the utterly preventable crime of rape. The cost of sexual violence is high $140 billion.

Sextortion of Minors: Characteristics and Dynamics

This reports describes sextortion incidents (threats to expose sexual images to coerce victims to provide additional pictures, sex, or other favors) from a large sample of 1,385 victims. Sextortion incidents were serious victimizations, and often co-occurred with teen dating violence. This report describes resources so that practitioners can help victims find support and legal advice and remove posted images.

Dropout Issues

Dramatic Increase in the Proportion of Births Outside of Marriage in the United States form 1990 to 2016. Child Trends 40 Years

New analyses by Child Trends indicate that the likelihood that a child will be born to unmarried parents varies substantially by the mother’s current education level and by her race and ethnicity.

Half of 20-to 29-year-Old Women Who Gave Birth in their Teens Have a High School DiplomaChild Trends 40 Years

Young adults from 20 to 29 years of age who gave birth in their teenage years are less likely to hold a high school diploma or GED. 53 percent of young women who gave birth as teens received a high school diploma compared with 90 percent of those who did not.

Examination of Agression and Study Skills from Middle to High School: Implications for Dropout Prevention

Students who were identified in the high-aggression/low-study-skills group had a 50% dropout rate compared to students with low aggression and high study skills who had a dropout rate of less than 2%. The results highlight the importance of early interventions that combine academic enhancement and behavioral management for reducing school dropout rates.

Research Supporting Dibble Programs

Factors Associate with Romantic Relationship Self-Efficacy Following Youth-Focused Relationship Education

New study on Relationship Smarts PLUS

Practitioners should carefully consider how the tailoring of program content and delivery to meet the needs of diverse audiences maintains program fidelity and can potentially influence program outcomes.


Preparing Youth for Success in West VirginiaDepartment of Health and Human Services

T.H.I.N.K., overseen by Mission West Virginia Inc., provides evidence-based instruction to high-risk youth and young adults from 12 to 24 years old in a variety of settings, such as middle and high schools, juvenile detention facilities, group homes, residential treatment facilities, and youth emergency shelters in seven counties. The program leverages statistics and messaging that demonstrate how following the success sequence can help them avoid poverty and lay the foundation for success in the future.

Relationship Smarts PLUS Evaluated at University of Georgia Extension

The University of Georgia Extension delivered the Relationship Smarts Plus program to youth across the state through in-school and after-school settings. From August 30, 2017 to September 3, 2018 a total of 3,013 youth participated in one of 84 programs offered across 30 counties. Majority of the participants felt the program was helpful or very helpful and they were more prepared for relationships in the future.

Sex & Relationship Education

Why Are Young People Having So Little Sex?The Atlantic

To the relief of many parents, educators, and clergy members who care about the health and well-being of young people, teens are launching their sex lives later. From 1991 to 2017, the Centers for Disease Control finds, the percentage of high-school students who’d had intercourse dropped from 54 to 40 percent.

Fewer Teens are Having Sex as Declines in Risky Behavior Continue

A survey led by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention showed as steep decline of high-school-age teens who are having sex has dropped over the last two years. This trend includes younger students, African Americans and Hispanics. Adds evidence about ongoing reductions in risky teen behavior by teenagers who are becoming pregnant, smoking, drinking alcohol, and using marijuana.

3/4 of Young People want Relationship Education in School to Help them Understand How to
Build Lasting Relationships as an Adult
Center For Social Justice

The Centre for Social Justice and Family Stability Network in the UK commissioned an opinion poll of young people aged 14-17 in England to understand their iews on changes to the provision of Relationships and Sex Education (RSE).

  • RSE should reflect the ambitions of young people, not just the here and now.
  • Achieving a lasting relationship in adult life is just as important to young people as their career ambitions.
  • Despite growing up in the shadow of widespread family breakdown, achieving a lasting relationship as an adult is still important to older teenagers.
  • Young people want to get married as adults, RSE shouldn’t ignore marriage.
  • There is a long way to go in understanding why marriage matters.
  • Achieving their relationship goals is harder than ever for young people.

Increasing Youths’ Relationship Confidence with Relationship Education

Youth relationship education aims to build youths skills to form and sustain healthy romantic relationships. A new study provides more evidence that these kinds of programs can be effective at helping youth develop more confidence in their abilities to form and sustain healthy relationships.

Finding the fluoride: Examining How and Why Developmental Relationships are the Active Ingredient in Interventions that Work

In 2012, Junlei Li and Megan Julian argued in this journal that a major and underappreciated factor in the success and failure of interventions intended to improve the lives of children and youth at risk is the degree to which those interventions promote what the authors called developmental relationships. They asserted that “developmental interventions produce desirable outcomes if and only if such interventions enhanced developmental relationships.”


Teen Girls ‘Bombarded and Confused’ by Sexting Request

Northwestern University Research – Sexting, or sending nude or semi-nude sexually suggestive images or messages to others, is a reality for an estimated 15 to 25 percent of teens growing up in the digital age. Though some research points to sexting as a potentially low-risk way to explore sexuality, it also is associated with increased risk of ostracism, depression and suicide.

Study Uncovers ‘Sextortion’ Prevalence in Teens

According to the United States Department of Justice, “sextortion” is labeled as the most important and fastest-growing cyberthreat to children, with more minor victims per offender than all other child sexual exploitation offenses. Sextortion in children catapulted into the spotlight in 2012 with the suicide of 15-year-old Amanda Todd from British Columbia.

Teen-Wellbeing & Development

Romantic Involvement: A Protective Factor for Psychological Health in Radically-Diverse Young Sexual Minorities

A recent study published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, found that romance – that is, being in a romantic relationship – may be one factor that can protect LGBT youth from the negative psychological effects of victimization.

How Winning Friends May Influence Adolescent Behavior

Adolescents may get by with a little help from their friends, but, according to Penn State researchers, friend selection and friend influence, as well as gender, may all play a role in establishing friendships that can help, or possibly hurt, them.

Reduced Screen Time for Young Highly Recommended for Well-Being

Too much time spent on gaming, smartphones and watching television is linked to heightened levels and diagnoses of anxiety or depression in children as young as age 2, according to a new study.


What do Teens’ Emotions Feel Like?

Adolescents tend to experience many emotions simultaneously, but don’t differentiate between them very well. Emotion Differentiation can be enhanced through the practice of mindfulness.

Teens, Social Media & Technology 2018

95% of teens now report they have a smartphone or access to one. These mobile connections are in turn fueling more-persistent online activities: 45% of teens now say they are online on a near-constant basis.

Self-Control Develops Gradually in Adolescent Brain

Most previous research in this area had focused on one region of the brain. Rather than using this approach, Michael Hallquist, assistant professor of psychology, Penn State, and an Institute for CyberScience faculty co-hire, sought to investigate communication among different regions of the brain.

Tackling Bullying Could Help Reduce Depression in Autistic Teens

Teenagers with difficulties in social communication, including autism have higher rates of depressive symptoms, especially if they are being bullied. Researchers at the University of Bristol found that children with autism and those with autistic traits had more symptoms of depression when they were 10 years old than their peers and that this continued at least up to the age of 18.

Father’s Rejection Can Lead to Teen Anxiety

Study investigates rejection from fathers during adolescence and increased social anxiety and loneliness among teens. Studies have shown that adolescents with thriving social lives tend to be more psychologically healthy, while those that struggle with social anxiety and forming good friendships tend to perform worse academically and suffer from more depressive symptoms.

The Prevalence of Adverse Childhood Experiences Nationally, By State, and By Race or EthnicityChild Trends 40 Years

Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are a critical public health issue. ACEs are potentially traumatic experiences and events, ranging from abuse and neglect to living with an adult with a mental illness. They can have negative, lasting effects on health and well-being in childhood or later in life. Economic hardship and divorce or separation of a parent or guardian are the most common ACEs reported nationally, and in all states.

Less Sleep Association with Risky Behavior in TeensCNN

The amount a teenager sleeps is associated with how likely they are to engage in risky and suicidal behavior, a new study said. “Fewer hours of sleep on an average school night [is] associated with increased odds of all selected unsafe behaviors,” the authors wrote, including risk-taking while driving, such as drunken driving, potentially unsafe sexual activity, aggressive behavior and use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.

Teen Brain: How Schools Can Help Students Manage Emotions and Make Better Decisions

Adolescence tends to be seen by parents—and many teachers—with dread. Teenagers are likelier to engage in risky behaviors and disengage from school. But emerging cognitive and neuroscience research suggests ways schools can help leverage teens’ strengths in this unique developmental period.



Cohabitation & Marriage Research

Divorce Rate in U.S. Drops to Nearly 40-Year Low

The U.S. divorce rate dropped for the third year in a row, reaching its lowest point in nearly 40 years. Marriage rates, on the other hand, increased last year.

In 2015, there were 32.2 marriages for every 1,000 unmarried women age 15 or older, according to the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University.

The Millennial Success Sequence: Marriage, Kids, and the ‘Success Sequence’ Among Young Adults

Marriage before children is no longer the norm in the United States. More than half — 55 percent — of parents between the ages of 28 and 34 were not married when they had their first child. Some of these millennial parents later married, while others remain unmarried.

Cohabitation and Intimate Partner Violence During Emerging Adulthood

In recent years, a majority of young adults experience cohabitation. Nevertheless, cohabitation is a risk factor for intimate partner violence (IPV). This study found that socio-demographic characteristics, relationship commitment, quality, and constraints as well as prior experience with violence (in prior relationships and family of origin) were associated with IPV, but did not explain the association between cohabitation and IPV.

Marriage Trends: Baby Boomers vs. Millennials

From the National Center for Family and Marriage Research:

In 1980, the majority (68%) of Baby Boomers aged 25-34 were married. However, in 2015, only 40% of Millennials were married. In 2015, the majority of Millennials had never married (53%) compared to 20% of Baby Boomers in 1980.

Cohabitating Parents Differ from Married Ones in Three Big Ways

To understand what lies behind the “stability gap” between married and cohabiting parents, it is therefore useful to look at the other ways in which married and cohabiting couples differ, aside from marital status. In this paper, we examine three factors in particular—intendedness of childbearing, levels of education, and earnings—and show stark differences between cohabiting and married parents. Most married parents planned their pregnancy; most cohabiting couples did not. Married parents are also, on average, much better educated and earn much more than cohabiting parents.

Dating Violence

Digital Dating Abuse Especially Bad for Girls

Teens expect to experience some digital forms of abuse in dating, but girls may be suffering more severe emotional consequences than boys, according to a new study. Researchers at the University of Michigan and University of California-Santa Barbara examined the impact of gender on high schoolers’ experience of digital dating abuse behaviors, which include use of cell phones or internet to harass, control, pressure or threaten a dating partner.

The Effects of Relationship Education on Adolsescent Traditional Gender Role Attitudes and Dating Violence Acceptance

This study examined change in adolescents’ traditional gender role attitudes and dating violence acceptance following completion of Relationship Smarts PLUS.  A significant decrease in traditional gender role attitudes was found for both boys and girls following relationship education, with a steeper decline in traditional gender role attitudes for boys than girls over time. Although there were no significant changes in dating violence acceptance, change in traditional gender role attitudes was correlated with change in dating violence acceptance, such that moving toward more egalitarian attitudes was associated with a decrease in acceptance of dating aggression/violence.

Aggression in Twentysomethings’ Relationships

A number of studies show that cohabiting couples are more likely to experience physical aggression in their relationships than married couples. Two studies shed light on this subject by exploring how aggression in the relationships of individuals (mostly) in their 20s is associated with various commitment dynamics.

Men and Women May Define Sexual Assault Differently

Women were more likely to see certain behaviors as sexual assault. For example, 72 percent of women called “watching someone in private without their knowledge or permission” assault, compared with just 56 percent of men. Similarly, 79 percent of women would consider “sexual intercourse where one of the partners is pressured to give consent” to be assault compared to just 67 percent of men. And awareness of verbal harassment was low among men (48 percent) and particularly among young men ages 18 to 34 (46 percent).

Teen Dating Violence Strong Predictor of Future Domestic Abuse

A study conducted by the University of Calgary is the first to demonstrate, in a U.S. national sample, that adolescent dating violence is related to a cycle of violence from teen to adulthood. The study serves as a wake-up call that dating violence amongst teens needs to be taken more seriously.

Dating Violence Associated with Nonmedical Use of Prescription Drugs

Researchers have found links between teen dating violence and nonmedical use of prescription drugs. However, males and females experience this violence differently. Previous research has shown dating violence is associated with risky behaviors, but studies linking it to NMUPD have been limited.

1 in 7 Young Teens Is a Stalking Victim: Survey

About one out of seven children in 6th and 9th grades has been a victim of stalking, potentially boosting their risk of substance abuse, dating violence and other dangers, a new U.S. survey finds. The research doesn’t confirm that being stalked makes it more likely that a teenager will do risky things or become a victim in other ways. But the findings do raise the prospect that stalking among teens is a hazard beyond the fear and danger that it creates.

Family Structure

Role of Social Networks among Low-Income Fathers

This brief, from the Office of Planning, Research & Evaluation , explores fathers’ social support networks. A few of the findings indicate that fathers typically had small social networks and some fathers had no supportive family or friends. Some used their social networks for four main types of support: emotional, financial, in-kind, and housing; and reported using supports from organizations such as religious organizations, community service agencies, and community based-organizations.

Family Structure and Family Formation among Low-Income Hispanics in the U.S.

In particular, family structure among Hispanics—the largest and one of the fastest growing racial/ethnic minority groups in the U.S.—is less understood than that of some other groups. This is a critical knowledge gap, as Hispanics currently make up 17 percent of the U.S. population and 25 percent of children under age 18.

Research Supporting Dibble Programs

Dibble’s 2015-2016 Annual Report

Prevention works! That’s the core belief underscoring The Dibble Institute’s work to equip young people with the skills and knowledge they need to build healthy relationships both now and in the future. Read about the results of our work in 2015 and 2016.


When Your Teen Won’t Stop SextingUniversity of Texas

Sexting is all about conveniently connecting intimately — sharing sexual material, such as a picture or video, via mobile device or through a social networking app — and it’s not just adults who are doing it. Teens are also sexting. While adults are more likely to sext than teens, studies indicate that between 7 and 28 percent of adolescents sext. In fact, research from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston suggests that sexting may become a normal part of adolescent sexual development.

Teen Parents

More than a Million Millennials are Becoming Moms Each Year

Some 1.3 million Millennial women gave birth for the first time in 2015, according to recently released data from the National Center for Health Statistics, raising the total number of U.S. women in this generation who have become mothers to more than 16 million.

US Teen Birth Rate Drops to All-time Low

In the United States, teen-aged moms are increasingly rare. In 2016, the teen birth rate dropped 9% compared to the previous year. This record low for teens having babies continues a long-term trend. The birth rate among teen girls has dropped 67% since 1991, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, which presented preliminary data for 2016 based on a majority (99.9%) of births.

Age of First Marriage > Age of First Birth

The median age at women’s first marriage remains higher than the median age at first birth, and the share of births to unmarried women remains constant at 40%, signaling the decoupling of marriage and childbearing and the delay in both marriage and childbirth.

Dads Behind on Child Support Spend Less Time With Kids

Fathers who don’t live with their children but who are behind on child support payments have significantly less contact with their children than those who are not behind. What makes the biggest difference in father-child time is the quality of the relationship between biological parents.

Infant Simulators Designed to Discourage Teen Pregnancy, Actually Encourage It

In high schools around the world, teenagers are handed an electronic doll to care for for a day or two, to expose them to the challenges of parenting. The thought is that these so-called infant simulators will reduce the incidence of teen pregnancy. But the first randomized trial on the dolls finds they may do the exact opposite — actually increasing pregnancy rates in schools where they’re used.

CDC: United States Still Faces Too Many Repeat Teen Births

Although rates of repeat births among teens are on the decline, tens of thousands of American teens are still getting pregnant for a second time, according to research published in the April 28 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Teen-Wellbeing & Development

To Prevent Youth Suicide, We Must Address More Than Bullying

An analysis of data for youth ages 11 to 15 found that in 2003 through 2014, only around 9 percent of cases specifically indicated that bullying was a factor leading to the suicide. The same number of cases reported school disciplinary problems (e.g., being suspended from school). However, over half the cases (56 percent) listed relationship issues, primarily with family or intimate dating partners, as a precipitating factor, and a similar percentage (52 percent) of youth were reported to have had mental health problems. The majority of youth suicides (60 percent) involved multiple precipitating factors.

Preventing Teen Suicide: What the Evidence Shows

Rates of teen suicide continue to rise, with rates for girls higher than at any point in the last 40 years. A rational response would be to engage in evidence-based measures to try to reverse this course. Too often, we assume that there’s nothing we can do.

One suggestion the authors note, “We need to promote connectedness and limit isolation. The best thing we can do for teens at risk is to prevent them from cutting themselves off from others.”

When It Comes to Sex, Dating, and Drinking, 18 is the New 15 for American Teens

Adolescents in the 2010s were less likely date, drink alcohol, go out without their parents, and have sex than teens in every generation since the 1970s. Fewer of them have paying jobs or drive. The research says the cause is not kids having more homework, or more extracurricular activities. (They are actually doing less homework and about the same in terms of extra-curricular activities.) What’s changed is the context in which teens are growing up.

Romantic Competence, Healthy Relationship Functioning, and Well-Being in Emerging Adults

A skills-based model of healthy relationship functioning—romantic competence (RC)—is described. Its association with relationship and individual well-being was examined in three studies of emerging adults using the Romantic Competence Interview for Emerging Adults (RCI–EA), which measures competence as the interplay of three skill domains. Across studies (women [n = 102], women and men [n = 187], romantic couples [n = 89]), RC was associated with greater security, healthier decision making, greater satisfaction, and fewer internalizing symptoms.

Study of Sisters Helps Explain Dad’s Influence on Risky Sexual Behavior

What is it about a father that affects his teenage daughter’s likelihood of engaging in risky sexual behavior? Researchers have long shown links between father involvement and daughters’ sexual behavior, with the standard explanation attributing that influence to shared genes that impact both a father’s behavior and relationships and his child’s problem behavior.

“It’s not enough for a dad to just be in the home,” said Danielle J. DelPriore, a post-doctoral fellow in the University of Utah’s department of psychology and lead author of the study. “The quality of a father’s relationship with his daughter has implications for both the overall monitoring she receives from her parents as well as her likelihood of affiliating with more promiscuous or more prosocial friends.”


Cohabitation & Marriage Research

Are We Still Married? Family Structure and Family Policy in the Emerging Age of the Unformed Family

An impressive body of research from numerous disciplines and diverse political perspectives suggests that the family is society’s seedbed institution and, therefore, that there is much truth to Margaret Mead’s famous dictum that “as the family goes, so goes the nation.”

Who gets divorced in America, in 7 Charts

There’s this persistent myth in America that about half of all marriages end in divorce. In fact, the figures are significantly lower!

Majority of Americans Now Believe in Cohabitation

Cohabitation is the new norm. Shifting gender roles and expectations, the delay of marriage, and a secularizing culture are leading more American adults to believe that moving in together before tying the knot is a good idea. A recent Barna study asked Americans their views on cohabitation: the pros, cons, motivations, and effects of living together prior to marriage. Though its acceptance is widespread in American culture, there are still large pockets of resistance to this changing ethic among religious communities and those who adhere to more traditional values and premarital expectations.

The Most Educated Women are Most Likely to be Married

During the past 25 years, marriage rates have been climbing for women with college and graduate degrees, while women who lack an education beyond high school have seen their marriage rates plummet, according to research from Richard V. Reeves, Isabel Sawhill and Eleanor Krause at the Brookings Institution.

Trends in Marriage and Cohabitation Experiences Among Young Adults

Cohabitation has usurped marriage as the most common relationship experience in young adulthood. Three-quarters of young adults have cohabited while only half have married. This trend holds true for women across race and ethnic groups as well as education levels. Cohabitation is increasing at a faster rate than marriage is declining. Most young adults are forming unions; they are simply choosing to cohabit rather than to marry in their young adulthood.

Tracking Teen Attitudes About Marriage and Cohabitation

High school seniors are increasingly likely to say that their ideal time to marry is several years after high school, according to a new NCFMR Family Profile. The largest percentage change is in the “over five years from now” category, which doubled from 1976 to 2014. In 2014, the majority of high school seniors responded that their ideal time to marry was “over five years from now.” Conversely, the percentage of high school seniors responding that their ideal time to marry was “one year from now” dropped from 9% in 1976 to 2% in 2014. This profile is the third of a three-part series using Monitoring the Future data to examine trends in high school seniors’ attitudes towards marriage and cohabitation.

Data Reveals Uptick in Marriage Rate

The first marriage rate (defined as the number of first marriages per 1,000 unmarried women 15 and over) declined from 49.8 in 2008 to 45.3 in 2014. Despite the overall decline, the first marriage rate showed an uptick from 2013, when the first marriage rate was 43.1. The first marriage rate in 2014 was the highest that it has been since 2010.

Peer Influence

Romantic Partners are More Influential in Drinking Habits than Friends, Study Claims

Findings published in Developmental Psychology show that those who are in relationships were more similar to their partners than to friends on measures of alcohol abuse. Similarity between friend reports of alcohol abuse declined after one or both of the adolescents, ages 12 to 19 years old, became involved in a romantic relationship, to the point where they became more similar to their romantic partners than to their friends.Harvard Logo

Robert Waldinger: What makes a good life? Lessons from the longest study on happiness.

This TED talk reviews the studied effects of the longest study by Harvard on happiness and relationships.


Strong Social Connections Linked to Better Health

A lack of social connection may have a negative impact on your physical health, new research suggests. Adolescents and teens ages 12 to 18 who felt socially isolated had a 27 percent increased risk of inflammation, compared with those who did not feel socially isolated, the researchers found.

Having Friends is Good for You, Starting in Your Teens

Researchers used data from more than 14,000 Americans in four large, nationally representative surveys of health from adolescence to old age. After controlling for education, smoking, depression, alcohol consumption, diabetes and other characteristics, they found a lower score on the social integration index was associated with higher levels of C-reactive protein, a measure of general inflammation, and with higher blood pressure, higher body mass index and larger waist circumference.

Intriguing Gender Differences Found in Autistic Friendships

Research being presented puts an interesting slant on autism, friendship and the differences between girls and boys. Results found that the relationships of autistic girls aged 12-16 were more similar to those of non-autistic girls than they were like autistic male’s relationships. The autistic girls were also less likely to pick up on conflict within their relationships.

Digital Romance: How teen boys and girls differ

Thanks to texting and social media, teens today have many more ways to reach out to a crush than in the analog days of using the family telephone and passing notes in the hallways.

But according to a recent Pew Research Center report, some romantic traditions remain the same. The most common way for teenage boys to ask someone on a date is to ask a girl in person rather than via text message.

Girls less likely to get pregnant if a friend has a baby

Girls whose friends have experienced teen childbirth are less likely to get pregnant themselves, a new study suggests. The researchers compared two groups of teen girls: those with a similarly-aged friend who’d given birth, and those with a friend who’d had an early miscarriage. They wanted to see whether these events affected the girls’ choices in having sex, getting pregnant, having a child, and getting married as teens — or their choices regarding school, marriage and family as adults.

Research Supporting Dibble Programs

Snapshot of Healthy Relationship Education Programs for YouthChild Trends

This fact sheet focuses on HMRE programs funded by the Office of Family Assistance (OFA) during the 2011-2015 grant cycle that served youth ages 14-24. It outlines the total number of youth served between October 2013 and September 2014; the age, gender and racial composition of these participants; and the most commonly used curricula, program goals and expected program outcomes. Love Notes and Connections were among the most frequently used programs.

Teen Parents

Can You Predict Which Male Teens Will Live With Their Future Kids?

It may be possible to determine how likely it is that male teens will live with their future children, researchers report. Assessing a male teen’s attitudes about risky sex, pregnancy and birth control can do this. The study also found that it was possible to identify young males likely to become teen fathers.

Long-term Consequences of Adolescent Parenthood Among African-American Urban Youth: A Propensity Score Matching Approach

Socioeconomic consequences of teenage parenting among African-Americans from disadvantaged background seem to be primarily concentrated in women and persist throughout adulthood.

In addition to promoting the delay of parenting after the teenage years, it is critical to provide programs at early stages in the life course to mitigate the negative socioeconomic consequences of teenage motherhood as effects for women are broad.

Teen Sexual Activity

The Sudden, Incredible Decline in Teen Births Since 2009

Teen births hit a new low in 2015 — and have fallen by nearly half over the past seven years. New federal data shows there were 22.3 births for every 1,000 girls ages 15 to 19. That’s a 47 percent decline from the teen birthrate in 2009 — and a 64 percent decline from the teen birthrate in 1991.

Study Dashes Millenials’ Reputation as Hookup Generation

A new study contradicts the common perception that young American adults — so-called Millennials — are having more casual sex than previous generations. Researchers found 15 percent of young adults aged 20 to 24 born in the early 1990s (Millennials) had no sexual partners since age 18, compared with six percent of Americans born in the late 1960s.

Higher Parental Monitoring Linked to Safer Sex in Teens

This meta-analysis explores the effects of parental monitoring on teen sexual behavior. Overall, higher parental monitoring of teen behavior, rule enforcement, and knowledge of behaviors, locations, and companions (monitoring knowledge) were associated with delayed sexual intercourse in teens.

Teen Well-Being & Development

National Study Shows a Decline in Risky Adolescent Behaviours and Reports of Bullying others among Canadian Youth.

Findings from the 2014 Health Behaviour in School-aged Children survey (HBSC) show that relationships with family, school, peers, and community play a critical role in the health of young people. In fact, for virtually all relationships examined, family support was the most important source of support linked to better health outcomes.

The Best Way to Fight With a Teenager

Compelling new research suggests that constructive conflict between parent and teenager hinges on the adolescent’s readiness to see beyond his or her own perspective. In other words, good fights happen when teenagers consider arguments from both sides, and bad fights happen when they don’t.

Overusing Social Media May Hurt Teens’ Love Lives

Social media may keep young people, particularly boys, from developing key interpersonal skills they need to successfully manage relationships. A new study finds that when it comes to romance, the more teens communicate online with their boyfriends and girlfriends, the worse they manage conflict and asserting themselves in romantic relationships at a time when kids are developing complex interpersonal skills

This Could Explain Why Teens Are So Obsessed With Social Media

While it’s easy to joke that teens are obsessed with Instagram, Snapchat and probably a bunch of apps we don’t even know about, there’s new evidence that might explain why: Neuroscientists have found that seeing all those “likes” on a social media post may be especially intoxicating to growing brains.

UNICEF Launches Campaign on Internet Safety for Adolescents

Eight out of ten 18-year-olds believe that young people are in a grave danger of either being sexually abused or taken advantage of online noted a new report released by UNICEF. UNICEF aims to amplify adolescents’ voices to help address online violence, exploitation and abuse, and make sure that children can take full advantage of the benefits the Internet and mobile phones offer.

Issues Between Intimate Partners Often Occur Before Suicides and Homicides

New data published in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) from the National Violent Death Reporting System “show that relationship problems, specifically issues between intimate partners, often occur before suicides and homicides.”

New Report Finds LGB Youth Experience More Violence

CDC has released the first nationally representative data on the health risks of lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) high school students. The report found that LGB youth experience substantially higher levels of physical and sexual violence, and bullying, and are at increased risk for suicide, and other serious negative outcomes.

Adolescent Depression in Girls Offset by Presence of ‘Boomerang Father’

A study of the impact of “boomerang fathers” — those who cycle in and out of their children’s lives — yielded surprising results for researchers. “Boomerang fathering” provided a type of stability in a daughter’s life that staved off her depressive symptoms compared to those adolescent girls whose fathers were completely absent.

The Association between Sexual Health in Adolescent Women

Data from a 10-year longitudinal cohort study of sexual relationships and sexual behavior among adolescent women showed higher sexual health (excluding sexual activity but including communications with a partner, skills to negotiate mutually acceptable sexual behaviors, feeling safe and supported in the relationship, etc) was significantly associated with better physical, mental, and social health outcomes with young women, including less frequent nicotine and substance use, lower self-reported depression, lower thrill seeking, higher self-esteem, having fewer friends who use substances, higher religiosity, better social integration, lower frequency of delinquent behavior and crime, and more frequent community group membership.

Absentee Parent Link to Smoking and Drinking Before Adolescence

Children who experienced parental absence appear to be far more likely to start smoking and drinking alcohol before they become teenagers, suggests a study published online in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Teen depression on the rise in the U.S.

Major depression is growing among young people. One of the drivers may be related to increased cellphone use among teens and girls in particular, U.S. researchers say.