Professor develops curricula to encourage communication between parents, teens

Penn State Brandywine Assistant Professor of Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) Marinda Kathryn Harrell-Levy, who is new to campus this semester, was invited by the Alabama Department of Public Health to present at a live satellite conference and webcast about healthy communication between parents and teens on Monday, Oct. 29.

Harrell-Levy traveled to Montgomery, Ala. to engage nurses, social workers, school counselors and administrators, public health educators and any social service, faith-based or community-based organization working with teens and their families to help them understand the importance and relevance of a research-based curriculum she co-wrote, called "Bridging the Great Divide: Parents and Teens Communicating about Healthy Relationships (BTGD)."

The curricula "was developed to address parent needs identified by teachers during Relationship Smarts (RS+) implementation in several middle schools and high schools throughout Alabama," Harrell-Levy explained. "It's a six lesson curriculum that assists parents in communicating about relationships and related issues with their teens.

"The conference also addressed some of the more basic concerns related to teaching and learning about parent and teen communication and is designed to empower parents to be more proactive in their communication with teens and motivate educators to introduce research-based parenting curricula in their communities."

Harrell-Levy's research also explores the challenges parents face when "discussing issues like abuse with teens; and, more poignantly, effectively entering into conversations that will make it more likely for teens to disclose to parents abuse when it is happening," she said.

For more information about the conference or to watch the On Demand webcast, visit