New Resources for Teachers on How to Create Healthy Endings to Teen Relationships: An Interview with The Prevention Researcher

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Most teen relationships eventually come to an end but few teens know when and how to end their relationships effectively. Nicole Daley, Program Director, and Ricky Smith, a senior peer leader, with Start Strong discuss how to create healthy endings to teen relationships in a new interview with The Prevention Researcher, the quarterly journal focused on successful adolescent development.

Nicole Daley & Ricky Smith

Nicole Daley & Ricky Smith

... it's not telling teens what to do but really engendering the conversation and helping them to speak up about what's best for them ...

“I think it's important for teachers in schools to talk about healthy break-ups because it is a place where teens are spending most of their days,” says Nicole Daley, M.P.H, Program Director of Boston’s Start Strong during an interview with The Prevention Researcher. “And it’s a place where they're also learning and practicing life skills.”

In the interview, Ricky Smith, a senior peer leader with Start Strong, adds that “I don't believe most teenagers know how to have a healthy break-up, and knowing that is important so that both partners have some kind of closure.”

Nicole Daley currently directs Start Strong’s Building Healthy Teen Relationships Initiative at the Boston Public Health Commission. It is a three-and-a-half-year teen dating violence prevention initiative funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that focuses on primary prevention for 11- to 14-year-olds. Ms. Daley has been working in the field of teen dating violence prevention for over five years. A senior in high school, Ricky Smith has been with Start Strong for three years and conducts workshops on healthy relationships.

“What we do at Start Strong is try to facilitate a conversation, so it's not telling teens what to do but really engendering the conversation and helping them to speak up about what's best for them,” says Ms. Daley. “We have a healthy relationship quiz online at, and with that quiz, teens can take a look at: is my relationship healthy, is it unhealthy. Another way to use it is allowing teens to identify which are their deal-breakers and which are the pieces of a relationship that are really important to them.”

A healthy, respectful break-up according to Ricky Smith requires “Communication, honesty. Always be honest with your partner, like let them know like why you're doing this. Don't beat around the bush, don't come off as shady. Be honest, tell them, let them know why.”

Adults can support teens who have just experienced a relationship ending, Ms. Daley says “we encourage adults to have conversations with teens about the three T’s – taking a technology time-out, taking care of oneself, and taking responsibility for your actions.” In addition, she notes that “Self-care is really, really important, encouraging the teen in your life to go out with their friends, try something new, do things that will help them to get their mind off of the break-up so that they can move on from it eventually.”

Ricky Smith summarizes by saying, “I just want to let teens know that break-ups, they're never going to be easy, no matter like what kind of relationship it is. So just prepare, just try to be understanding, try to be compassionate, and just try to like maybe get into your partner's head. Just try to help them cope with how they're going to be feeling, because it's not going to be easy for them. Neither is it going to be easy for you.”

For a copy of the complete interview with Nicole Daley and Ricky Smith on “Healthy Endings to Teen Relationships,” link directly to The Prevention Researcher or

About The Prevention Researcher

Founded in 1994, The Prevention Researcher is published by the non-profit, Integrated Research Services in Eugene, Oregon. The quarterly journal focuses on successful adolescent development and serves professionals who work with young people in a variety of organizational settings.

Each issue of The Prevention Researcher covers a single topic, presenting the latest adolescent behavioral research and findings on significant issues facing today’s youth. The journal provides information about programs that create supportive environments for youth, strategies for preventing problems affecting adolescents, and resources that help youth-serving professionals.

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Todd Peterson
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