Healthy Teen Relationships Act Implementation Project

You are here

Healthy Teen Relationships Act Implementation Project

During the 2017-2018 school year, OSBHA is proud to be partnering with two community based domestic and sexual violence agencies, Raphael House of Portland and VOA Home Free, along with Multnomah County school-based health centers, to develop a model for collaborative implementation of the Healthy Teen Relationships Act (HTRA). Our goal is to use collective impact model to drive social change that will support healthy relationships for youth.

Healthy Teen Relationships Act (HTRA) requires all school districts to adopt a policy that:  

  • States that teen dating violence is unacceptable and is prohibited and that each student has the right to a safe learning environment;

  • Incorporates age-appropriate education about teen dating violence into new or existing training programs for students in grades 7-12, and school employees as recommended by school officials;

  • Identifies by job title the school officials who are responsible for receiving reports related to teen dating violence, which shall be the same school officials identified in the policy adopted by the school district under [the Safe Schools and Equality Act of 2009, which prohibits bullying, cyberbullying and harassment];

  • Establishes procedures for the manner in which employees of a school are to respond to incidents of teen dating violence that take place at the school, on school grounds at school-sponsored activities or in vehicles used for school-provided transportation;

  • Notifies students and parents of the teen dating violence policy adopted by the board.

Raphael House and VOA Home Free have provided educational services in high school health classes for over 10 years—our project capitalizes on and adds additional value to their existing prevention and education work by expanding the ability of school communities to promote socio-cultural norms that support healthy relationship choices and behaviors and to enact existing national and Oregon policies. This education is unique to domestic and sexual violence agencies and in our project, Raphael House and VOA Home Free’s work focuses specifically on healthy relationships support, messages, and framing by giving targeted lessons on respect, consent, communication skills, and bystander intervention.

One of the best ways to prevent sexual violence among adults is to educate them about healthy relationships as young people," said Senator Claire McCaskill, a former courtroom prosecutor of sex crimes, when speaking about the Teach Safe Relationships Act. “As we’ve seen in our work to curb sexual assault in the military and on college campuses, most young adults form opinions and behaviors about sex and relationships before they hit 18—so if we can better teach them about consent and safety when they’re young, we can better prevent violence and promote safe behavior in their futures.”

OSBHA is granting Raphael House and VOA Home Free funding to strengthen relationships, expand education and advocacy support in schools and capitalize on the strong relationships OSBHA maintains with school-based health centers, with the intent of developing a model for schools to replicate throughout Oregon. This pilot is being implemented in two Portland Public high schools. In addition to offering prevention and education services, we seek to integrate these services with school-based health centers, school counseling and warm referrals within and outside the school setting. Students and staff will be educated about healthy relationships and what they can do to build a culture that sustains them. Students will be supported by a system without gaps, with reliable access to tools and help with relationship challenges or abusive situations. We will also work with administrators to develop school and/or district policy and procedures to support this healthy relationship culture. Raphael House and VOA Home Free will provide confidential advocacy services at these two schools, providing students with access to trained advocates who will actively listen, provide community based resources as needed, and facilitate peer support within the school community. In this way, we seek to build a model for HTRA implementation.

This model will build on the education in health classes provided by Raphael House and VOA, draw a connection to the services and support offered in SBHCs, and will include advocacy and support for students as needed. Focused support for the entire school community will be offered to encourage conversations about the practice of healthy relationships and sexuality within the community. This project will establish a stronger collaborative relationship between SBHCs and schools, using community partners as a bridge between health and education. It will also develop a specialization within SBHCs to more effectively address the relationship health needs of students.

A special thank you to the EC Brown Foundation for its continued support to improve the social and sexual health of Oregon’s young people.