The California Healthy Youth Act
Information for School Boards and Educators
Did you know that students getting Ds & Fs are three times more likely to report being in abusive relationships than those getting As? These outcomes don’t have to be part of young people’s future.
Schools are uniquely positioned to support healthy relationship skills among students. By addressing dating and sexual violence through a school-wide, coordinated policy response, we can create a safe space for students to disclose the trauma they may be experiencing and receive the resources they need.
One way schools can achieve this is by following the guidance and requirements of AB 329, also known as the California Healthy Youth Act. Passed in 2015, the California Healthy Youth Act updates and strengthens existing law to ensure that students receive sex education that is accurate, comprehensive, medically accurate, age-appropriate and inclusive. The bill also updates curricula on the prevention of sexually transmitted infections, HIV, and pregnancy. Additionally, the California Healthy Youth Act ensures that students receive sex education that includes instruction for pupils to gain the “knowledge and skills they need to form healthy relationships that are based on mutual respect and affection, and are free from violence, coercion, and intimidation.”
Dating abuse and sexual violence prevention do not have to be add-ons or extra programs. Rather, they can be addressed throughout sex education instruction, within the overall context of a coordinated school health system. As schools continue implementation of the requirements under the California Healthy Youth Act, we encourage all schools to consider the following:
- What steps can each campus take to ensure and support that students at all grade levels, and in particular middle schools and high schools, engage in safe and respectful relationships?
- It is important that schools address adolescent dating abuse, healthy relationship skills, and comprehensive sex education through school policies and prevention efforts. One important first step for schools is to review their policies and incorporate adolescent dating abuse where it is relevant. The California Healthy Youth Act requirement focusing on providing students with “knowledge and skills they need to form healthy relationships that are based on mutual respect and affection, and are free from violence, coercion, and intimidation” can be a helpful starting point in creating practices and policies that address adolescent dating abuse.
- How can we build on the existing California Healthy Youth Act requirements to ensure a comprehensive approach to these issues?
- Within the curriculum requirements of the California Healthy Youth Act, schools can add provisions that explicitly include adolescent dating abuse—recognizing the intimate relationship between dating partners and the added complexity that brings when discussing healthy relationships. By incorporating adolescent dating abuse prevention into the curriculum, schools can ensure students are receiving the resources needed to be educated on the signs of healthy relationships.
- How can we create a cultural shift toward non-violent relationships?
- Our schools have an important role to play in encouraging healthy relationship development and the prevention of adolescent dating abuse. By providing students and school staff with resources to encourage healthy relationship development on campus, we can create a positive school climate that helps student development, promotes student health and risk prevention, contributes to student learning and success, and increases the likelihood that students will graduate.
When California schools address dating violence, they support students’ well-being and add to a healthy campus culture. To find more information on how Your Campus Can Be Ready, please visit the following links:
From the ACLU:
The ACLU of Northern California works with students, parents, community members, and schools to ensure that the sex education provided in schools is medically accurate and in compliance with California law. This list of resources and materials has been developed to help understand the law and advocate for better sex education in schools.
- Sex Education – California Healthy Youth Act
- Sex Ed Checklist [Survey]
- Check Your Sex Ed Video
- Know Your Rights: Sex Education
From California School Based Health Alliance:
The California School-Based Health Alliance, a statewide nonprofit organization helping to put more health services in schools, provides resources that can help educators and school-based health practitioners learn about California Healthy Youth Act requirements for California schools.
Explore more of the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence’s Your Campus Can Be Ready campaign.
 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2009). Unintentional Injury and Violence-Related Behaviors and Academic Achievement. Atlanta, GA: US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.