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Talking About Abstinence: Topics to Explore Category

Defining a healthy relationship can be problematic for some youth. This section provides lessons, activities, and teen video clips to promote discussion about relationships.


What is a Healthy Relationship? Part 1
Participants begin by brainstorming definitions and examples of both healthy and unhealthy relationships, then view and discuss a video clip about how teens define these concepts.

Qualities Auction
After brainstorming a list of healthy and unhealthy qualities of a potential dating partner, participants break into small groups, and each group is asked to “bid” on qualities they consider most important. When the game is over, youth discuss their choices.

What is a Healthy Relationship? Part 2
Participants view a video clip of teens talking about relationships, then recall scenarios from the media that illustrate how a relationship can change over time.

Relationships in the Media
After brainstorming a list of favorite couples from the media, participants are asked to explore the dynamics of fictional relationships, including issues of trust and intimacy, as well as sexuality. Youth also create and administer a questionnaire to their peers in order to explore different kinds of relationships teens find admirable.


How We Talk About Relationships
To explore the various meanings of relationships, youth participate in a guided discussion about the meaning of concepts like friendship, attraction, and love.

Sex and the Soaps
To explore the possible emotional effects of sex on a relationship, participants create and act out a soap-style scene which shows a relationship that has soured because of a poor decision about sex.

After "Happily Ever After"
To explore the differences between fictional and real romances, particularly how “happy endings” may not be enough to sustain a relationship in the long run, participants write short stories adapting fairy tales to include more realistic concerns.

Role Reversal and MTV’s Flipped
After viewing a video from The Teen Files: Flipped that shows a boyfriend and girlfriend trading lives for a day, youth are asked to trade places with a peer for a day and record what they learn from the experience.

Hallmark on Relationships
To explore how consumer culture labels relationships, participants are asked to create new categories of sentimental greeting cards. Youth then design and create the greeting cards.

Couple Interview
Youth explore characteristics of relationships they admire by recording an audio interview of a couple of their choice. Suggested interview questions touch on the development of intimacy, trust, support, and respect between partners.

Love Songs
To examine and discuss how popular love songs describe emotions and relationships, youth are asked to select, play, and discuss a favorite love song. Selections can reflect realities or represent ideal emotional expression. The group then makes a mixed album, using personal statements as liner notes.

Romance, Old-School
By viewing a Hollywood classic romance of their choice, participants explore courtship rather than consummation as a way for a couple to become intimate. Youth select and discuss scenes that they think best exemplify the relationship depicted.

Romance, New-School
Participants select, update, and perform scenes from classic romance films to explore contemporary perceptions of courtships that have little to do with sex.

For More On Relationships, See:

Healthy / Unhealthy Relationships: “Maria Wears My Jacket”
Through story analysis, participants use their critical thinking skills to look at an unhealthy relationship and examine the power and control elements of abuse at work.

Healthy / Unhealthy Relationships: Agree or Disagree
Participants are asked to agree or disagree with a list of relationship statements. Qualities youth may find admirable in a potential partner are discussed, as well as the warning signs and dynamics of abusive relationships.

Far From Heaven: Crashing Through the Myth of “Normal” Relationships
Through a critical viewing and discussion of the film, participants explore the impact of social “norms” and stereotypes on relationships. Specific attention is given to issues regarding gender and sexuality. Participants also examine the use of melodrama as a way to juxtapose social norms with individual realities.

Talking it Out: Recipe for a Relationship
Youth look at how feelings, actions, and behaviors are part of romantic relationships, both in media and in real life, but the most important “ingredient” is a discussion that determines boundaries and establishes trust.

How To Deal: Learning About Relationships from Those Around Us
After viewing the film, participants discuss how emotional environments affect they way young people think about relationships, love, and intimacy.

Interracial Relationships on Film
After selecting and viewing a film that depicts an interracial couple, participants discuss how film approaches social issues regarding interracial relationships, including peer and parent reaction.

Safety Tips for a Date
After discussing ideas about how teens can date safely, participants design and create their own brochures to educate their peers.


Media Literacy 101 Using Sex to Sell Talking About Abstinence Reducing Risks Reading Media Be the Judge Producing Media
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