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“Nationwide, nearly one in ten high-school students (8.9 percent) has been hit, slapped or physically hurt on purpose by a boyfriend or girlfriend.”

Start Strong: Building Healthy Teen Relationships (Start Strong) is a program of the Division of Violence Prevention aimed at working with young people as the solution to ending teen dating violence. Start Strong is an innovative grass-roots effort focused on 11- to- 18-year-olds to prevent teen dating violence and abuse by actively promoting healthy relationships. We are working together with teens, parents, caregivers, educators, healthcare professionals, domestic violence advocates, and community leaders to build environments that support healthy relationships and ensure violence and abuse are never tolerated.

Start Strong values the voices of young people in the fight to end relationship abuse. As a result we hire and train high school peer leaders to help spread our healthy relationship messaging.  If you or a teen you know would like to become a Start Strong Peer Leader please contact us for an application. ​

The focus of our work covers four main areas.

  • ​First, we educate and engage youth in and out of school.
  • Secondly, we work with a group of 25 older teens who serve as peer leaders in their communities and the field.
  • Thirdly, the peer leaders work on media campaigns aimed at preventing dating violence among teenagers in Boston and increasing their healthy relationship skills.
  • Lastly, we work with schools, community groups and youth serving agencies to change policies and environmental factors so that they support young people in engaging in healthy relationships. Contact us if you would like a workshop held at your organization.

Our program offers: 

  • Teen Workshops for teens ages 11-18 years old. Our Start Strong Peer Leaders can facilitate  workshops for groups in out of school time programs. Workshop topics cover: Teen Dating Violence 101, Healthy Relationship Skill Building, Engaging in Healthy Break Ups and Media Literacy.
  • Adult Provider Workshops:  Our Provider workshops cover Teen Dating Violence 101, Healthy Relationships, Media Literacy, and supporting teens to engage in healthy break ups.
  • Parent Workshops: Workshop topics include Teen Dating Violence, Media Literacy, and communicating with your teen(s).
  • Safe Dates in Middle Schools: Safe Dates is an evidence-based teen dating violence prevention curriculum created for middle school settings. Start Strong Staff are available​ to come into your school and implement the 9-week curriculum.


  • Health Fairs/Assemblies: Staff are available to attend school health fairs and conduct large scale workshops at your school.


  • ​Choose Not to Abuse in High Schools:  Choose Not to Abuse is geared to youth ages 12 to 18 years old and is designed to begin changing teens’ attitudes, and beliefs regarding violence and health, and to empower them to make informed, conscious, healthy choices in their relationships. 

For more information on workshops contact Jessica Alder at or 617-534-3446


Healthy Teen Break-Ups

Most young people engage in multiple relationships throughout their teenage years, making mistakes and practicing their relationship skills. The ensuing break-ups can be messy, uncomfortable, and hurtful.  The Boston Public Health Commission hosts an annual Break Up Summit in July to bring teens from around the City together to discuss current trends in break-up practices and how to engage in healthy break-ups.  Past themes include technology and break ups and cheating and break-ups.  For more information on the Summit please contact Start Strong Boston.

The Commission’s Start Strong Initiative has a number of tools to help teens build healthy relationships and conflict resolution skills that are especially important during break ups. You can download the tools by clicking on the links below.

Breaking-Up is Hard To Do: Ten Tips for Supporting Your Teen” – A tool for adults to assess their skills around talking to/helping teens through break-ups 

Healthy Relationship Quiz” – A tool to help teens determine if they are in a relationship that they want to stay in

U R Breaking Up” - A tool that uses the cell phone reception bars to help teens think about the best way to be heard/have maximum reception during a break-up

What Apps Will You Choose?” – A tool that uses common cell phone applications to help teens think about their technology choices when going through a break-up​


Media Literacy: Watching your Lyrical Diet

The next time you’re ready to download that song from iTunes or watch that music video, you may want to check out how healthy it is for you. Just as a nutritional label allows you to count the calories in a fast food hamburger, the Boston Public Health Commission’s Start Strong Initiative has made it easier to measure what’s in the songs you listen to or music videos you watch. The Sound Relationships Nutritional Label is a tool to help music lovers evaluate how healthy – or unhealthy – songs are. TrueView is a music video scoring tool that helps users assess the healthy or unhealthy relationship images in music videos.

Download:  Sound Relationships Nutritional Label, a song lyrics analysis tool
Download:  TrueView, a music video analysis tool
Download:  2011 Top Ten List of Healthy and Unhealthy Relationship Songs
Download:  2010 Top Ten List of Health and Unhealthy Relationship Songs
Download:  2009 Top Ten List of Healthy and Unhealthy Relationship Songs


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Boston Public Health Commission
1010 Massachusetts Ave, 6th Floor, Boston, MA 02118.
Phone:(617) 534-5395 Email: