Relationships Matter: Strengthening Vulnerable Youth
Although many youth development programs recognize the importance of relationships for youth, very few teach relationship skills to help young people manage intimate partner relationships. These skills are especially important for youth in vulnerable circumstances such as being low-income, system-involved, runaway/homeless, or disconnected from school or work. Thirty-five leaders and practitioners from the youth development and relationship education fields convened to discuss the needs of disadvantaged youth and the capacity of the field to deliver relationship education to this population. These proceedings highlight the seven key themes that emerged from the conference: 1) relationship education is essential; 2) relationship education is a development strategy; 3) relationship education focuses on skill building, interpersonal skills, safety, knowing oneself, and setting the stage for healthy marriage; 4) relationship education can serve a variety of purposes for youth; 5) relationship education is not just an outcome; 6) relationship education may be delivered as a curriculum and through an experiential learning model; and 7) there is no one-size-fits-all approach to delivering relationship education to youth.