Parents and caregivers know from experience that healthy relationships are key to a happy, healthy life.  Be it with self, family, friends or romantic partners, learning relationship skills need to start at a young age. And just like other skills children develop, like playing soccer, math or reading, healthy relationship skills need to be learned one step at a time.

Parents and caregivers are important role models when it comes to healthy relationships. But schools also have a part to play —after all, kids spend almost 200 days a year at school! Ophea and White Ribbon have programs and resources for teachers, students, and parents to develop healthy relationship skills in children and youth.

Ideas on where to start

It’s important to encourage children to ask for help when things don’t feel respectful or safe. Help children and youth recognize the signs of healthy and unhealthy relationships: honesty, trust, good communication, caring, respect, equality, and feeling safe, versus feeling pressure, control, humiliation, abuse, and violence. The foundations of healthy relationships can be taught at home and at school and include:

  • Knowing and setting personal boundaries
  • Asking for permission before touching another person
  • Respecting the boundaries of others

Developing the ability to become aware and communicate a wide range emotions.

Supports for your schools & communities

This past school year Ophea, a not-for-profit that champions healthy, active living in schools and communities, launched Campaign Messengers: Taking a Stand! This project trained over 100 students and teachers from across Ontario to lead activities related to the promotion of healthy relationships, consent, respect, and equality in their school communities.

Funded by the Government of Ontario, this project empowers students to lead conversations on these important topics with their peers so that they can make informed decisions about their safety, health and well‑being. The project will extend this fall to 40 new elementary schools through a free training event for teachers in October 2017. Campaign Messengers is delivered in partnership with White Ribbon, the Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres, and Egale Canada.

Also look to White Ribbon, whose mission is to inspire men and boys to embrace the positive role they can play to promote healthy relationships and end violence against women end violence against women and girls. Their male role modeling initiative It Starts with You. It Stays with Him. inspires men to promote healthy, equal relationships with the boys in their lives.

Check out the Government of Ontario-funded White Ribbon Draw the Line campaign which encourages conversations about the topics of healthy relationships, consent, and sexual violence prevention. It empowers youth to play a positive role and promote consent and healthy relationships with their peers.

Let’s work together to give kids the crucial relationship skills they need now and for life.

Ophea is a not-for-profit organization that champions healthy, active living in schools and communities through quality programs and services, partnerships and advocacy.

White Ribbon is the world’s largest movement of men and boys working to end violence against women and girls and to promote gender equity, healthy relationships and a new vision of masculinity.



Maria Lianos-Carbone is the author of “Oh Baby! A Mom’s Self-Care Survival Guide for the First Year”, and publisher of, a leading lifestyle blog for women.

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