The Fourth R
The Fourth R is a school-based programme that addresses dating violence, substance abuse and risky sexual behaviour. Students learn about conflict resolution, decision making and active listening, as well as clarifying myths and facts about relationships.
Type of intervention
Theatrical, group work
Target groups, level of prevention and subgroups
- (Potential) Offenders | Primary prevention | Young people (12-17 years) | Male and female | Theatrical, group work | English, Spanish, French, Portuguese
- Children and Young People (Victims) | Young people (12-17 years) | Male and female | Theatrical, group work | English, Spanish, French, Portuguese
Young people aged 13-14 years (high school, grade 9).
Developed by a research team from the University of Western Ontario and the CAMH Centre for Prevention Science.
The Fourth R is now a consortium of researchers and professionals who develop and evaluate programmes, resources and training material.
Mode and context of delivery
The Fourth R is delivered by teachers in high school during regular class time or by two adult facilitators in small groups in community settings. In schools, the programme is delivered as part of a health and physical education programme and meets the statutory education requirements in most provinces in Canada.
There are additional school-wide teacher training and parent information components.
Some programmes are available in French, Spanish and Portuguese. Some content has been adapted with the help of community partners in Canada to include an Aboriginal perspective.
A Youth Safe Schools Committee is a key component which helps create consistent messages about preventing violence and promoting healthy relationships.
Level/nature of staff expertise required
Teachers and youth leaders with facilitation skills, who have completed training on this programme. Young people can be trained to deliver part one of the community programme.
Intensity/extent of engagement with target group(s)
21 – 33 hours spread over 21 – 33 weeks, when delivered in schools.
In community settings delivered over 12 sessions.
Description of intervention
Launched in 2001, The Fourth R is a school-based primary prevention programme that addresses dating violence, substance abuse and risky sexual behaviour. It is delivered by teachers in the classroom and forms part of the recognised curriculum for health and physical education in high schools in Canada. It can also be delivered in community settings by two facilitators.
Students learn about conflict resolution, decision making and active listening as well as clarifying myths and facts about relationships and drug use, discussing peer pressures and bringing personal and group responsibility into play. There is emphasis on skill development fostered by interactive strategies and role plays.
The intervention is supported by teacher training and parent information components. Lesson plans with extensive teaching strategies are available for each lesson. Parents are given an orientation session and four newsletters.
The programme has a strong evidence base and applies a youth-focused harm reduction strategy. It targets multiple forms of violence, including bullying, dating violence, peer violence and group violence. It empowers adolescents to make healthier decisions about relationships, substance use and sexual behaviour. Students learn to analyse issues, solve problems and communicate effectively. Students are helped to examine individual beliefs, values and boundaries.
A Youth Safe Schools Committee is a key component which helps create consistent messages about preventing violence and promoting healthy relationships. Students create media displays, provide information, connect with parents and work with teachers to deliver lessons.
Listed on numerous registries as an effective programme, including SAMHSA National Registry of Evidence- based programs and practices; Canada’s National Crime Prevention Database, Public Health Agency of Canada Promising and Best Practices Portal.
- Wolfe, D.A., Crooks, C.V., Jaffe, P.G., Chiodo, D., Hughes, R., Ellis, W., Stitt, L., & Donner, A. (2009). A universal schoolbased program to prevent adolescent dating violence: A cluster randomized trial. Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, 163, 693-699.
- Crooks, C. V., Wolfe, D. A., Hughes, R., Jaffe, P. G., & Chiodo, D. (2008). Development, evaluation and national implementation of a school-based program to reduce violence and related risk behaviors. Institute for the Prevention of Crime Review, 2, 109-135.
- Crooks, C.V., Chiodo, D., Zwarych, S., Hughes, R., & Wolfe, D.A. (2013). Predicting implementation success of an evidence-based program to promote healthy relationships among students two to eight years after teacher training. Canadian Journal of Community Mental Health, 32, 125-138.
- Wolfe, D. A., Crooks, C. V., Chiodo, D., Hughes, R., & Ellis, W. (2012). Observations of adolescent peer resistance skills following a classroom-based healthy relationship program: A post-intervention comparison. Prevention Science, 13, 196-205.
- For resources to deliver programme see website http://youthrelationships.org
Information correct at September 2020