skip to main content

Public Health - Seattle & King County

Questions about the Family Life And Sexual Health (F.L.A.S.H.) Curriculum

What is FLASH?

FLASH is a widely used comprehensive sexual health education curriculum developed by Public Health Seattle–King County and designed to prevent teen pregnancy, STDs, and sexual violence. FLASH is available for elementary, middle, high school and special education classrooms.

FLASH lessons prepare students to:

  • Successfully navigate puberty
  • Abstain from sex
  • Use condoms and birth control when they do have sex
  • Confirm consent before engaging in sexual activity
  • Report sexual abuse and assault
  • Communicate with their family about sexual health and dating
  • Make decisions that minimize risk to their sexual health
  • Seek medical care in order to take care of their reproductive health

FLASH is based on the Theory of Planned Behavior. Lessons include a variety of strategies designed to create positive attitudes, beliefs and norms and to build skills in order to reduce rates of pregnancy, STDs and sexual violence.

FLASH includes a strong family-involvement component in order to further increase protective factors that support students in remaining abstinent, using birth control and condoms, and respecting other's decisions not to have sex.

FLASH supports and respects diverse community values through its inclusive design, its use of the Values Question Protocol, and through the design of the Family Homework, which encourages discussion about values.

What's unique about the FLASH curriculum?

FLASH is unique in many ways. It is a comprehensive science-based sexual health education curriculum designed to prevent pregnancy, STDs and sexual violence. It is deigned to be used in school classrooms, as a part of a health unit, although it can be successfully implemented in a variety of environments. It does not require training, and provides substantial teacher support so that it can be immediately implemented by any school that is ready. It includes a strong family involvement component, creating opportunities for families to talk with their children about important sexual health topics. It is an inclusive curriculum, including examples and activities that will resonate with youth from a variety of geographical regions, racial identities, and sexual orientations. It is highly interactive and is respectful of students with a variety of sexual experiences.

What theory is FLASH based on?

The FLASH curriculum is based on the Theory of Planned Behavior. It is designed to support young people in making healthy choices: abstain from sex, use protection when they do have sex, seek health care when they need it, communicate effectively with their families, and respect other's decisions not to have sex. The curriculum is age appropriate, teaching content and skills that are developmentally appropriate across the grade levels.

The Theory of Planned Behavior posits that the combination of attitudes toward behavior, subjective norms, and self-efficacy shape an individual's behaviors. As such, FLASH includes a variety of strategies designed to create positive attitudes, beliefs and norms and to build skills and self-efficacy in order to reduce rates of pregnancy, STDs and sexual violence.

  • There are activities that focus on building positive attitudes about abstinence, condoms, birth control and puberty
  • There are activities that focus on building positive peer norms about abstinence, condoms, birth control and respecting other's decisions no to have sex
  • There are activities that focus on building self-efficacy, by teaching skills and offering ample and appropriately scaffolded practice, so that students can have the experience of successfully using the new skill

The sexual violence prevention lessons are further based on the Social-Ecological Model and the Confluence Model. The Social Ecological Model addresses factors at the (1) individual, (2) relationship, (3) community and (4) society levels that put people at risk of experiencing violence as a victim or perpetrator. FLASH focuses primarily on the levels 2, 3 and 4. The use of scenarios, introspective work and social norm re-setting addresses these levels. Visit the CDC's Violence Prevention website for more information.

The Confluence Model of Sexual Aggression has long been used to explain sexual violence, but has only recently begun to be applied in the realm of prevention. This model posits that adverse developmental experiences during childhood have a detrimental impact on the ways in which individuals view themselves and others, and their ability to form meaningful and healthy relationships. In particular, these experiences can lead to a rigid, violent and objectifying view of women, which is a significant risk factor for perpetrating sexual violence (CDC). FLASH addresses this risk factor by focusing heavily on increasing respect for all genders and breaking down harmful gender stereotypes.

Is it science based? Evidence based?

FLASH is a science-based promising program. It adheres to the Characteristics of Effective Sex Education Programs and is aligned to both the CDC’s National Health Education Standards for Sexual Health and the National Sexuality Education Standards. FLASH has not yet been rigorously evaluated in order to become an evidence-based program.

Can I adapt the curriculum for different settings or change the number of sessions, or length of time?

Yes, feel free to adapt FLASH to meet the needs of your student body. The goals of the curriculum are to (1) prevent pregnancy, (2) prevent HIV and other STDs, (3) prevent sexual violence, (4) improve family communication and (5) improve knowledge of sexual and reproductive health. High School FLASH users who purchase online access can make use of the Lesson Selection Tool to sort lessons by these goals. The best way to impact all 5 areas listed above is by completing all FLASH lessons.

Is there training available?

Training for the FLASH curriculum is recommended but not required. FLASH is designed to be teacher-friendly, including ample scripting, so that schools can implement when they are ready. Because of this, FLASH trainings focus on building teachers’ skills, and are not simply an overview of the lessons. Teacher trainings build skills in answering difficult student questions, including questions about values, best practices in the field of sexual health education, and the effective use of key concepts when teaching about sexual health. For more information about scheduling a training, please contact