Strategies for Healthy Youth Relationships

The Fourth R is a group of researchers and professionals dedicated to promoting healthy adolescent relationships and reducing risk behaviours. We develop and evaluate programs, resources and training materials for educators and other front-line professionals who work with youth. In particular, we work with schools to promote the neglected R (for relationships) and help build this Fourth R in school climates. Fourth R initiatives use best practice approaches to target multiple forms of violence, including bullying, dating violence, peer violence, and group violence. By building healthy school environments we provide opportunities to engage students in developing healthy relationships and decision-making to provide a solid foundation for their learning experience. Increasing youth relationship skills and targeting risk behaviour with a harm reduction approach empowers adolescents to make healthier decisions about relationships, substance use and sexual behaviour.

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How Do We Understand Teen Sexting?

The Fourth R’s valued partner Dr. Jeff Temple spoke with Dr. Annie Abram on her weekly online radio show Relationships Matter discussing how to help adolescents understand what a “healthy relationship” is.

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An Inspirational Day!

Susan Dale, Program Development and Implementation Coordinator, CAMH Centre for Prevention Science joined co-workers Shanna Burns, Mike Cywink and Zach Ramsey for the Uniting our Nations Cultural Leadership Day Camp - an inspiring day with a group of First Nations, Métis and Inuit secondary school students from the Thames Valley District School Board.

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Recently Tweeted


  • Anthony Petitti, former Superintendent of Education, Toronto Catholic District School Board, Toronto, Ontario

    “The Fourth R is a comprehensive program, using the theme of healthy relationships, to deliver important life lessons in areas of safety and injury prevention, healthy growth and sexuality, and substance use and abuse. It’s emphasis on role play, allowing students to practice decision-making skills in life-like situations, is a real strength. I would highly recommend this resource to any health and physical educator in a secondary school in Ontario.”

  • Connie Bray, Learning Supervisor, Learning Support Services, Thames Valley District School Board, London, Ontario

    “The Fourth R can be integrated in powerful and important ways with curriculum the secondary English program. Students are motivated to read and talk about personally meaningful topics affecting youth. Relevant, issues-based reading provided through Fourth R resources engages students and promotes meaningful talking, writing, and critical thinking in the English classroom.”

  • Timothy Cowl, Teacher, London, Ontario

    “The Cultural Leadership Course empowers students to learn and understand what it takes to be successful students both at school and in their communities. By working together in an environment that builds trust and fosters healthy relationships, students work together in hopes of building better futures for themselves, families and communities.”

  • Marie Battiste, Carmen Gillies, Yvonne Prusak, Aboriginal Education Research Centre, University of Saskatchewan

    “One of the strengths of the 4th R Aboriginal Perspectives program is the pedagogical approach taken to teach relationship building skills...The lessons are all very interactive, engaging, and reflective of Indigenous pedagogy which centers on holistic and experiential learning. Many of the lessons encourage teachers to invite Elders or knowledge keepers into the classroom and several lessons include the medicine wheel model and the use of sharing circles.”

  • Lindsay Mehler, Teacher, Saskatchewan

    “The 4th R program has been a useful resource in grade 8 health. I have been using the program to teach students about healthy eating and active living. The instructional strategies and lesson guides are easy to use and the students are engaged in the activities. The training allowed me to be confident in teaching the program through using differentiated instructional strategies…Violence prevention through building relationships is a very important part of teaching and this resource has helped me to see how easy it can be to set students up for success.”