3. Preparation for Implementation

Who should use this section:

  • APP programs that have not conducted staff training on ARA prevention;
  • APP programs that need to re-train staff on their ARA prevention approaches; and
  • APP programs seeking useful resources for project participants.

After selecting an ARA prevention program or materials to be incorporated in their project, youth workers who want to address ARA should prepare for the implementation or use of those materials.  There are several steps that need to take place to ensure successful implementation, including orienting all staff involved in decision-making or planning around the project, selecting and training staff who will implement the new material, and ensuring that the project has adequate resources to distribute. This section will provide APP programs with helpful tools to not only orient staff broadly on concepts related to ARA but also to build their confidence to implement materials. 

Photo of a teacher orientation session.3.1. Orient Staff on ARA Issues

All staff who will be involved in planning and decision-making about an organization’s approaches to address ARA should receive education and orientation regarding ARA issues. Staff should understand the dynamics of ARA, its consequences, and how to address it with youth before planning and implementing ARA prevention content. Increasing staff knowledge about ARA content will benefit APP projects by

  • allowing staff to develop and implement policies and procedures that are sensitive to the dynamics of ARA;
  • giving staff a framework for making decisions about incorporating ARA prevention activities into their projects; and
  • addressing common challenges that arise when discussing ARA with youth.

The tools below can be used to provide universal education to staff when necessary.

  • Dating Matters: Understanding Teen Dating Violence Prevention 
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2010). 
    This is a 1-hour, free online course for educators, school personnel, youth leaders, and other youth-serving professionals. The course provides an overview of ARA, including statistics, examples, and the impact of violence; information about risk and protective factors for ARA, such as early warning signs; an overview of healthy relationships and guidelines on an educator’s role in teaching about healthy relationships; and a resource center that provides ARA information, curricula, strategies, and other tools. This course can help APP programs provide their staff with a comprehensive overview of ARA as well as ways that they can facilitate respectful relationships in the classroom and respond to a student who confides to them about an unhealthy relationship. Participants can complete the course from any location. Educators can also obtain continuing education units for the course.
  • Promoting Healthy Relationships Among Youth: Reducing Teen Pregnancy by Recognizing and Responding to Dating Violence and Reproductive Coercion
    Futures Without Violence. (2012). Presented at the Annual Family and Youth Services Bureau Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Grantee Conference.
    This presentation includes information on the relationship between ARA and condom/birth control interference, the likelihood of pregnancy among female victims of ARA, and the difficulty of negotiating the use of birth control with abusive partners. The presenters also provided ways to define healthy relationships and to strengthen project activities in defining both ARA and healthy relationships. Lastly, the presenters provided an intervention education tool to help youth identify whether they are in a healthy relationship. APP programs can use this PowerPoint presentation to present the issue of ARA to staff, their board, and volunteers. They should customize it with local information and statistics whenever possible.

3.2. Select and Train Staff on ARA Prevention Approach

Once APP projects have selected a program or activities to address ARA, they will need to select staff to implement those activities. Here are several tips for selecting and screening staff:

  • Select program delivery staff who agree with program messages, for example:
  • ARA is a serious problem.
  • Victims should not be blamed.
  • Both boys and girls can be perpetrators or victims of ARA.
  • Gender stereotypes (expecting boys to act in a certain way and girls to act in a certain way) can be harmful.
  • Select program delivery staff who are willing and comfortable presenters of content, including messages above and sensitive content (e.g., about sexual relationship abuse).
  • Be mindful of the kind of professional background, if any, that a program requires (e.g., school teacher, nurse, police officer).
  • To reduce staff turnover, make logistics (e.g., time commitment, travel, payment) clear at the outset of the recruitment process.
  • Consider planning for staff turnover by selecting more than a bare minimum number of implementers.
  • Selecting staff that are supportive of, and motivated by, your project will help promote sustainability (15).

Selecting and training staff on the chosen ARA prevention approach are important steps in incorporating ARA prevention approaches into APP programming.  The goal of such efforts is to ensure that staff not only agree with the content of ARA prevention programming, but also have the knowledge and tools they need to successfully implement policies and programs. 

All staff, but especially staff facilitating ARA prevention content, should be trained in the dynamics of ARA, its consequences, and how to address it with youth. Training should be an ongoing effort, not a onetime event.  Staff skills will need to be refreshed, new research and best practices will emerge, new partners can offer new ideas, and staff turnover may occur. A detailed training plan should be developed and reviewed on an annual basis. 

Training staff allows them to feel invested in organizational policies and approaches to ARA prevention.  The following tools can be used to develop a training plan for incorporating ARA topics into APP projects as well as to build the confidence and competence of staff who will be implementing ARA prevention programming. In-person training for staff is ideal, and often local or state domestic and sexual violence organizations can help arrange such trainings.  If in-person training is not possible, the tools in this section can still help APP programs to educate their staff. 

Training on ARA and implementation of ARA prevention content can trigger painful memories and feelings for staff. Talking about the sensitive topics of DV, relationship abuse, reproductive coercion, and the effects of ARA on youth can be emotional regardless of whether a person has had any direct experiences with abuse.  Project managers should be sensitive to possible trauma history when screening, training, and providing supervision and support to staff for implementation.

  • Training Professionals in the Primary Prevention of Sexual and Intimate Partner Violence: A Planning Guide (PDF, 1.6MB)
    Fisher, D., Lang, K. S., Wheaton, J. (2010). Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
    This guide is intended for state-level entities and local community-based organizations that provide training to professionals within and outside of their own organizations on sexual and intimate partner violence. This guide may assist APP programs in developing and implementing a training plan that promotes staff knowledge about sexual and intimate partner violence and builds their skills and practices to prevent ARA. 

    Tip sheets on who to train (pages 52-61), which include suggested training content and example participant outcomes, may be useful for deciding which community partners to involve in training. Programs that intend to deliver multiple trainings to a variety of audiences can also use this tool to identify appropriate tailored content for each training.

    The worksheet on background information for training plan development (page 64) can be used to guide planning discussions about training, including what the training will cover, who will participate, and what resources are needed. This tool can help programs identify information gaps that they can work with organization partners to fill in while planning training. Pages 68-69 provide a case study example of the completed tool.

    Youth workers can complete the worksheet on criteria for selecting trainers (page 63) as they interview candidates for trainer positions or consider existing project staff for roles in training other staff on ARA content.

    The tip sheet on expert solutions to the 12 most common training delivery problems of novice trainers (page 80) can be used to select qualified trainers, to provide training of trainers, and to evaluate trainers’ performance and provide ongoing supervision and support.
  • Safe Dates: An Adolescent Dating Abuse Prevention Curriculum (2nd ed.) 
    Foshee, V., & Langwick, S. (2010). Center City, MN: Hazelden Publishing.
    As described in Section 2.4, Safe Dates is a 10-session, interactive school-based curriculum that targets attitudes and behaviors connected with ARA. In addition to the lessons, the curriculum includes tips for program delivery staff that APP programs may want to incorporate during staff training about implementation of ARA prevention programs. 

    These tips include establishing ground rules; making sure participants do not use real names when talking about other people’s experiences; being aware that some participants may be experiencing ARA or other abuse; remembering that some participants will feel comfortable talking about sexual violence and others may not; warning participants that complete confidentiality is not guaranteed in a classroom environment; ensuring that participants maintain respect during discussions; prohibiting participants from acting out violent behavior in role plays; and being aware of the important role that culture plays in addressing ARA. 

    Programs whose staff have not had recent experience implementing ARA prevention activities may find these tips particularly useful to prompt discussions and capacity building during staff training.
  • Avoiding Victim Blaming 
    Center for Relationship Abuse Awareness. (2013).
    This Website quickly and concisely defines victim blaming, why people do it, and why it is dangerous. It also includes a brief exercise that illustrates how victim blaming feels. This standalone exercise illustrates how it might sound if a robbery victim were subjected to the kind of victim blaming that rape victims sometimes encounter. This information and exercise could be incorporated into staff training and/or ARA prevention programming.
  • Hanging Out or Hooking Up: Clinical Guidelines on Responding to Adolescent Relationship Abuse: An Integrated Approach to Prevention and Intervention (PDF, 8.9MB) 
    Miller, E., & Levenson, R. (2013). San Francisco, CA: Futures Without Violence.
    This guide was developed for health care providers who work in youth-serving health care settings, such as school-based health centers, adolescent or pediatric health clinics, and family planning clinics. Organizations whose APP projects involve activities in health care settings can use this guide to train youth-serving health care providers on best practices for preventing, identifying, and addressing ARA. For example, APP staff may want to train health care staff on how to integrate prevention and assessment messages into clinic visits with adolescent patients. 

    Several tools, including the guide’s sample provider scripts, sample safety cards, and all of the provider tips could be used to develop staff training. The guide also offers tips related to sensitive and challenging topics, such as how clinicians can discuss conditional confidentiality with their patients and how to practice patient-centered reporting if a patient discloses abuse for which reporting to authorities is mandated. 

3.3. Provide Resources to Youth

This section provides tools and resources programs can offer to youth and parents who participate in their projects.

Healthy Relationships

The materials below are appropriate for youth. They help promote healthy relationships by focusing on what healthy relationships should be. These resources can be used as-is or adapted to programs’ specific needs.

  • Healthy Teen Relationships Manifesto (PDF, 677KB) 
    Idaho Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence Center for Healthy Teen Relationships. (n.d.).
    This half-page, double-sided resource  describes youth’s rights and responsibilities to have healthy relationships and avoid ARA. It contains a quiz to help youth determine if their relationships are healthy and provides national ARA prevention resources for youth.  This is good to give out when using the Center for Healthy Teen Relationships lesson plans referred to in Section 2.3.
  • Healthy Relationship Bookmark (PDF, 483KB) Spanish (PDF, 950KB) 
    Start Strong Idaho: Building Healthy Teen Relationships. (n.d.).
    This is a resource to go along with various curriculum modules. It describes characteristics of healthy relationships and signs of ARA. 
  • Healthy Relationship Safety Card for Tribal Communities (PDF, 4MB)

National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center and Futures Without Violence. (2012).
Website for ordering the card for free

This safety card aims to help Native and Indigenous women recognize healthy and unhealthy relationship dynamics and identify how their relationship may impact their health as well as the lives of their children. The card lists specific health issues that may be the result of chronic stress from an abusive relationship, offers suggestions to improve health and safety outcomes, and describes typical services provided by domestic violence and sexual assault advocacy programs. The card may be appropriate to distribute to female participants in APP projects. It contains a list of questions about unhealthy relationships and provides resources.

  • Hanging Out or Hooking Up Safety Card 
    Futures Without Violence. (n.d.). 
    This safety card challenges all youth to consider how their boyfriend/girlfriend treats them by identifying dynamics of healthy relationships and signs that may indicate abuse.  The card also explores how to address excessive text messaging and identifies dynamics of consensual versus pressured sex, including the ability to use birth control. Tips are provided to support friends who may be facing ARA. The card is written in gender-neutral terms and may be used by females or males in either heterosexual or lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and queer (LGBTQ) relationships. The card may be distributed directly to youth or stocked in specific locations, such as bathrooms or health care exam rooms, and is available for free in English and Spanish.  

How to Recognize ARA

Idaho Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence Center for Healthy Teen Relationships. (n.d.).
This brochure provides information about warning signs for abusive relationships, strategies for responding to the abuse and helping a friend, and resources.  This tool is appropriate for teens who might be afraid their or a friend’s relationship is abusive. 

Idaho Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence Center for Healthy Teen Relationships. (n.d.).

This brochure defines sexual harassment and provides information about warning signs of sexual harassment, strategies for responding to sexual harassment, and helping a friend. 

The National Dating Abuse Helpline is a key resource to provide to participants in APP programs.

  • Call 1-866-331-9474
  • Text “loveis” to 77054
  • Chat on

How to Help a Friend

These tools, developed by Break the Cycle, offer advice to young people who want to either discuss healthy relationships with their friends or reach out to a friend who is experiencing ARA. They can be used with all participants.

  • Help a Friend (PDF, 251KB)
    Break the Cycle. (n.d.).
    This brochure gives practical tips on supporting a friend who is experiencing ARA and starting a conversation about healthy relationships safely and sensitively.  
  • How Would You Help? Quiz (PDF, 712KB)
    Break the Cycle. (n.d.).
    This quiz provides scenarios reflecting on the best approach to helping a friend who is in an abusive relationship. 


  • How Can I Communicate Better? (PDF, 251KB)
    Break the Cycle. (n.d.).
    This brochure gives young people tips for improving communication in their relationships, which may prevent abusive behavior.  
  • Conflict Resolution (PDF, 269KB)
    Break the Cycle. (n.d.).
    This brochure describes the difference between conflict in healthy and unhealthy relationships. The two-page handout provides young people with examples of communication and conflict resolution in healthy relationships. It also provides tips for ensuring healthy disagreement as well as examples of how conflict can really be unhealthy or abusive relationship behavior.  
  • Healthy Break Ups (PDF, 377KB)
    Idaho Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence Center for Healthy Teen Relationships. (n.d.).
    This brochure provides a quiz for teens to determine when they should break up with a dating partner, strategies for breaking up in a respectful way, and resources if the teen fears breaking up might be dangerous. 

Digital and Electronic Abuse

Digital dating abuse is the use of technologies such as texting and social networking to bully, harass, stalk, or intimidate a partner. Often this behavior is a form of verbal or emotional abuse perpetrated online. In a healthy relationship, all communication is respectful whether in person, online, or by phone. 

  • Cellular Relationship Bookmark (PDF, 1MB)
    Social Netiquette Bookmark (PDF, 424KB)
    Idaho Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence Center for Healthy Teen Relationships. (n.d.).
    These bookmarks reinforce appropriate cellular behavior (like texting) and appropriate social networking behavior. Both bookmarks stress the positive—what good behavior looks like—but also address inappropriate behavior. The bookmarks are available in English and Spanish.  

Safety Planning

A safety plan is a personalized, practical plan that can help a young person identify and avoid dangerous situations and know the best way to react when they are at risk of being abused.  Youth who disclose potential or actual abuse may not be ready to leave the relationship, but staff can help empower the youth with the knowledge of how to act in different scenarios. The tools below can be used to help the youth create a safety plan.

  • Love is Respect Safety Planning Guide 
    Break the Cycle. (n.d.). 
    This interactive Web-based or hardcopy tool provides a comprehensive set of questions for high school or college victims to create a thorough safety plan. This tool can be offered to participants to use on their own (there are helpful informational icons along the way) or with a staff member. It is an interactive Web-based or hardcopy tool that provides a comprehensive set of questions for high school or college victims to create a thorough safety plan. This tool can be offered to participants to use on their own (there are helpful informational icons along the way) or with a staff member.
  • Create a Teen Safety Plan (PDF, 35KB)
    Futures Without Violence (n.d.). 
    This is a one-page guide that can be given to a participant for reference if they experience ARA. It provides tips about how to prepare to leave a relationship safely.
  • Teen Dating Abuse Safety Plan (PDF, 244KB)

End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin: The Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence (n.d.).  
This safety planning guide provides questions for teens to answer if they are in a relationship or if they plan to break up with a partner. It walks teens through various scenarios and helps them prepare to respond. 

3.4. Provide Resources to Parents

The resources in this section can be given to parents or caregivers any time, but they are especially helpful when APP programs are beginning to implement ARA prevention activities. The more youth workers can help parents discuss ARA with their children and reinforce the information young people receive through project activities, the more the information will be understood and utilized.

General Comprehensive Handbooks

  • A Parent's Handbook: How to Talk to Your Children About Developing Healthy Relationships (PDF, 123KB)
    Love is Not Abuse. (n.d.).
    This booklet was developed to help parents of pre-teens lay the foundation for healthy decision-making patterns and relationships. It includes tips for "starting the dialogue," an interactive quiz, and additional resources.
  • Navigating Teen Relationships: A Parent’s Handbook (PDF, 1.3MB)
    Idaho Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence Center for Healthy Teen Relationships. (n.d.).
    This comprehensive handbook for parents of high school students provides information about healthy relationships, appropriate online behavior, warning signs of ARA, and strategies for helping youth understand the issues. Some of the information, such as the description of the laws, is Idaho-specific but could be adapted for any community.  This is a comprehensive guide that would be good to provide to parents and caregivers following a parent education session on related topics.

    There is a similar handbook for parents of middle school students (PDF, 6MB).

Conversation Starters

The resources below are brief and are meant to provide parents and caregivers with ideas about to talk to children so they will listen. Specifically, these resources provide ideas about how to start conversations on healthy relationships and ARA.

  • Jane’s 20 Questions (PDF, 115KB)
    Family Violence Law Center. (n.d.). 
    This  is a list of conversation starters for a parent/caregiver and a youth.  Even if the parent/caregiver does not follow the game format, it provides a list of questions that can enhance communication and provide opportunities to discuss their values on a variety of difficult topics, including ARA. 
  • Conversation Cards 
    Futures Without Violence. (n.d.). 
    These are cards with witty prompts that encourage parents to be involved in their teens’ lives and talk to them about ARA. With conversation starters and strategies to help parents help their teens, these are light-hearted reminders for parents. They can be ordered for free.  
  • A Parent’s Guide to Teen Dating Violence: 10 Questions to Start the Conversation (PDF, 142KB)

Love is Not Abuse. (n.d.).
This tool provides suggestions to parents and guardians on how they can initiate a conversation with their teens about dating, ARA, and healthy relationships. 

LoveisRespect and Blue Cross/Blue Shield. (2013).

This handout offers answers to tough questions that youth often ask when learning about ARA for the first time. These questions and answers give adults an opportunity to prepare for conversations with teens and to give teens real answers to their difficult questions. This handout can be shared with parents, teachers, and other adults working with youth. 



The Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program’s Training and Technical Assistance and Meeting Logistical Support project led by RTI International for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Family and Youth Services Bureau, under Contract No. HHSP23320035651WC developed this toolkit.

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