According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one out of every four adolescents will report some type of verbal, physical, emotional or sexual abuse from a dating partner each year. Abuse spans across both genders but may be reported more often by females. To help stop abuse and to present teens with options, classroom activities on healthy relationships are becoming more prevalent in schools.
Give students a variety of scenarios where they must make a choice on the best way to handle the situation. Make four signs and number each sign one through four. Place each one in a separate corner of the room. Then read off a number of scenarios; for example, you are cheating on your boyfriend, do you tell him, break up with him, keep it a secret or try to improve your relationship. As students decide which choice they think is best, they go to the corresponding number. Talk about which of the four choices is the healthiest and discuss the reasons why. Use other examples of family, friend and work relationships and repeat the process.
Discuss the term "relationships" with your students. Have them discuss as a class what they see as a healthy relationship and what they see as a destructive relationship. Have students divide into small groups of not more than four people. Invite them to brainstorm some ideas on healthy and not so healthy relationships. For example, a healthy relationship may include honesty and love while a destructive relationship might include some sort of abuse. Ask students to come up with a role-play situation in which they play out a healthy relationship or a destructive relationship. As each group performs, have a class discussion on why that situation was healthy or destructive and ways the relationship could be different.
Discuss the idea of healthy relationships and brainstorm the characteristics on a large piece of bulletin board paper. Then have students work in pairs to come up with two to three survey questions. Write out each of the questions and develop a survey that students can give their friends at school. Have the students graph the results of the survey and apply probability to the school population. For example, based on the survey, have students graph how many students are likely to be in an abusive relationship. Talk to students about ways these numbers could be improved.
Talk to students about teen violence and some of the tragic effects of such violence. Many of them will have personal stories about teen dating violence. Review your state’s statutes on teen violence and review laws that are in place to protect teens. Have students set up a mock trial with a defendant, a lawyer, a judge and jurors. Have the students present a case on teen violence with the lawyers and judge using the reviewed state statutes while playing their respective roles. Have the jury debate guilt or innocence.
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