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Public Health - Seattle & King County

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

What's unique about the FLASH curricula?

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 others' decisions not to have sex.

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 and birth control.

There are activities that focus on building positive peer norms about abstinence, condoms, birth control and respecting others' decisions not 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 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 and STD/HIV Education Programs and is aligned to both the CDC's National Health Education Standards for Sexual Health and the National Sexuality Education Standards , authored by the Future of Sex Education. FLASH has not yet been rigorously evaluated in order to become an evidence-based program.

Is there evaluation data for the curriculum?

While there have not been large-scale, rigorous studies of FLASH, there have been three small post-test evaluations in the early 1990's. Evaluations of 4/5/6 FLASH by the Vashon Island and Federal Way School Districts showed that it increased students' knowledge in important ways and that they improved their attitudes about such things as puberty (less fear, more confidence) and sexual exploitation (their confidence in their ability to say "no" and tell an adult). And an evaluation of 7/8 FLASH comparing a health class that experienced the curriculum to a social studies class that didn't found similar increases in knowledge, ability to formulate an assertive objection to another's behavior, and attitudes about their own ability to be safe.

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. The Lesson Planning Tool available on this site will let you sort lessons by these goals should you only want to impact one of these areas. In order to achieve all 5 goals, all 15 lessons are required.

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. FLASH trainings will increase teachers' competence and confidence in delivering these lessons and answering student questions, and teachers overwhelmingly find the training leaves them better prepared.

FLASH trainings of educators are skill based and interactive. Trainings build skills in answering difficult student questions, including questions about values, and review best practices in the field of sexual health education, the effective use of key concepts, and the FLASH approach to a variety of topics. Trainings can easily accommodate teachers who are new to sexual health education as well as experienced teachers.

For more information about scheduling a training, please contact Kari Kesler at or Andrea Gerber at

What's innovative about the curriculum?

FLASH includes a strong family-involvement component. The Special Education version of the curriculum is flexible, depending upon the kind and severity of students' disabilities. The curriculum at all grade levels honors students' intelligence and avoids condescending. It is teacher-friendly. Updated lessons and parts of lessons can be down-loaded free, as new vaccines are developed, new diseases discovered, new contraceptives approved, etc. And, perhaps most important, it is abstinence and value-based without preaching and it teaches respect for diverse community values about controversial issues.