By Julliet Coxum, Senior Youth Development Specialist

NYS Center for School Safety

We’ve been bombarded with news around the incident between celebrity singers Chris Brown and Rihanna. Relationship violence is a serious problem among youth in our schools and communities. Relationship violence is defined as any unwanted, controlling, abusive, or aggressive behavior in a romantic relationship and can occur across all racial, social, sexual, religious, and economic barriers. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, over 50% of teenagers have reported knowing someone who has been in a violent relationship and one in three teenagers have experienced violence in intimate relationships first hand.

Research suggests that Positive Youth Development is a central element in the prevention of relationship violence. As service providers, we need to teach young people communication and negotiation skills to help them avoid or end violence in their relationships and provide them with the resources to seek help when appropriate.

Following are skills to build on the strengths and potential of young people while encouraging increased understanding relative to constructive healthy relationships and positive decision making.

Conflict Management Skills – Teach students to listen carefully and respectfully to the viewpoints of others, to accept legitimate differences of opinion and to develop creative, mutually satisfactory solutions.

Relationship Education – This will increase young peoples’ knowledge of relationships that give them a better understanding of both the positive factors that define healthy relationships as well as the negative factors that can lead to relationship violence.

Self-Actualization Skills – Exposure to confidence-building exercises and discussions about self-appreciation and behavior can help young people to develop a greater self worth and foster increase resistance to external pressures from the media and from peers.

Negotiation Skills -This is critical to the establishment of boundaries in any relationship.

The above information was obtained from archived In-Brief Youth Development articles published by The ACT for Youth initiative funded by the New York State Department of Health.

For more information and additional resources visit:

Department for Violence Prevention

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

NYS Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence