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Using School Health Center to Promote Healthy Relationships in Adolescents

NCJ Number
Date Published
August 2017
2 pages

This article summarizes the report, "Integrating Prevention and Intervention: A School Health Center Program to Promote Healthy Relationships," which is based on a NIJ-funded project that examined the effectiveness of the School Health Center Healthy Adolescent Relationship Program (SHARP).


SHARP's goal is to educate and engage teens who are at risk of or are experiencing abuse in a peer relationship, which is a significant public health problem. The SHARP model provides a brief education and counseling intervention designed to improve teens' recognition of adolescent relationship abuse. The SHARP intervention had three levels administered by school health center staff and student outreach teams. At the individual level, health center staff delivered a brief clinical intervention that characterized healthy and unhealthy relationships for all patients seeking services. At the clinic level, school health center staff received training in adolescent relationship abuse. At the school level, student-led outreach teams were created to encourage students to use the school health center services and promote healthy relationships and student safety. The research team's evaluation of the program found that at the individual level, there were no overall differences between intervention and control participants regarding the recognition of abuse in an adolescent relationship, intentions to intervene, knowledge of and recent use of resources related to such abusive relationships, or self-awareness regarding harm-reduction strategies; however, intervention participants did show improved recognition of sexual coercion at follow-up. Regarding clinic-level results at 6 months post-training, 33 percent of providers reported increased counseling on harm-reduction strategies with their clients. At the school level, there was improvement in perceived safety of school climate in the intervention schools compared to control schools. The study concluded that integrating such a system into schools may be a promising tool for preventing abuse in adolescent relationships and intervening when it occurs.

Date Published: August 1, 2017