Relationship Violence Curricula for Runaway and Homeless Youth
An key component of the Hollywood Homeless Youth Partnership (HHYP) in Hollywood, CA was the development of two “Intimate Partner Abuse Prevention Curricula” specifically for runaway and homeless youth – one for minors (youth ages 17 and under) and one for young adults (youth 18 and above) reflecting the developmental differences between the two groups. The curricula were pilot tested, and modifications were made after feedback from facilitators and youth. Both curriculum, the results of over two years of research, exploration, and experience in the areas of intimate partner abuse and runaway and homeless youth, is designed for use in drop in centers and shelters with youth new to the streets and chronically homeless youth.
The HHYP Relationship Traffic curriculum project discusses the importance of attending to several key issues when using or adapting materials for use with runaway and homeless youth:
Youth Engagement: Youth are more likely to engage in the program when provided multiple and meaningful opportunities to share their ideas. HHYP recommends engaging youth by “giving them choices whenever possible – the type of snack that is provided during the group, the type of incentives that are provided at the end to encourage ongoing participation, the opportunity to add or modify ground rules, and ability to pass if they don’t want to contribute to the group discussion.”
Group Rules: While the HHYP curricula include basic ground rules, these “may need to be adapted to the rules of a particular agency or to fit the groups need for safety.”
Repeat Participants: HHYP found that many youth attended the sessions multiple times, and recommended that facilitators find ways to these youth responsibility for some parts of the curriculum. “For example, youth can read the definition of intimate partner abuse, help the facilitator write down ground rules, or run the tape recorder or VCR. While these seem like insignificant tasks, we have found that these youth crave the opportunity to be recognized and praised.”
When to Ask Youth to Leave: HHYP suggests keeping the following questions in mind when deciding to ask a youth to leave the group: “1) Is this youth’s behavior making any group member feel unsafe? 2) Is this youth repeatedly violating the group and/or agency rules? 3) Is this youth’s behavior so distracting that it is prevention the group from meeting its goals? A yes answer to one or any of these questions would be an appropriate condition to ask the youth to leave the group.
Modeling Respectful Communication: HHYP found that Relationship Traffic groups provided an important opportunity to model the kind of respectful communication that is a part of healthy relationships, and to provide opportunities to youth to practice such skills. “By enforcing the group rules, reminding youth that it is OK to disagree, and acknowledging and affirming different opinions, the groups facilitator can create an environment that helps youth learn how to communicate more effectively with their peers.”
A Practical Guide for Service Providers: Addressing Intimate Partner Abuse in Runaway and Homeless Youth (April 2010)
Relationship Traffic: Young Adult Version (Prevention Curriculum)
Relationship Traffic: Version for Minors (Prevention Curriculum)