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Item description

Students need social and emotional support and education at every age. Teaching high school students the rules around dating, consent and respect is essential work.

This activity asks students to sort behaviors on a continuum of “Warning Sign” to “Extremely Abusive”. But why should you use it?

Do you remember where you were, in your classroom, the day after mega celebrity Chris Brown beat up Rhianna? I do. I was prepared to talk to students about it, but I was totally unprepared for how many thought it was ok, normal and/or Rhianna’s fault. That day I knew I had to do something. I decided to create this activity to make sure that there was a trusted place in a young person’s life where they could hear what they may have never heard before: Abusive relationships are common, dangerous and not ok.  I’ve watched students from abusive families create and enter abusive relationships themselves. Abuse thrives in secrecy, so I created this activity to bring to light these behaviors and recognize them for what they are. In doing so, we can take away the stigma of talking about what so many people hide.

Because it’s a group activity, students get to engage in conversation and hear from each other, not just their teacher, about warning signs and abusive behavior. I also stress the importance of discussing this as advocates and scholars, objectively, so that we can be authentic without necessarily exposing our own lives or the lives of our families. Finally, I quietly post a sign in my room about how to get help so students have resources available. This activity can be intense, rewarding, eye-opening and highly impactful. Be prepared to ask students questions about their choices and ask follow up questions to get them thinking and talking.

Note: Preview all sentence strips first and decide if any content is too mature for your students. Most material will not be appropriate for younger grades.

Time Needed: 45-60 min


  • Guide to setting up your room for this activity

  • Step by step lesson sequence instructions

  • 42 sentence strips of relationship behaviors

  • Labels for both sides of the line/continuum

  • “Resources for Help” page to post in your room

  • Rules for discussion to post on your board