Dating violence prevention in schools

The study found that the intervention created a long-term improvement in students’ knowledge of dating violence, reduced tolerance for aggressive or violent behavior, and improved teens’ perceptions about getting help if they experienced dating violence.

The study also found that Latino teens are most likely to turn to peers for help, and consequently, peer counselors are a promising source for assistance.

Survey results also showed that teens who experience or witness aggression in their family life and among peers hold less negative attitudes about dating violence, so finding opportunities for reducing aggression in teens’ daily lives may be helpful.

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Latinos may suffer disproportionate harms from dating violence because they may be less likely to report the problem or to seek help.

A study led by RAND Corporation psychologist Lisa Jaycox assessed the effectiveness of a school-based program tailored to Latino students in inner-city public high schools.

Violence between dating partners represents a significant public health problem. Victims face the threat of injury and also an elevated risk of substance abuse, poor health, sexually risky behavior, pregnancy, and suicide.

teens report dating someone who became violent with them.

Given Latino teens’ inclination to seek help from peers, a promising avenue for intervention is the use of teens as peer educators to teach other teens about identifying and preventing dating violence.

In addition, these teens can act as counselors who can link students with more formal sources of support, such as attorneys, police, and school personnel.

Jaycox LH, Mc Caffrey D, Eiseman E, Aronoff J, Shelley GA, Collins RL, and Marshall GN, “Impact of a School-Based Dating Violence Prevention Program Among Latino Teens: A Randomized Controlled Effectiveness Trial,” , Vol. Ocampo BW, Shelley G, and Jaycox LH, “Latino Teens Talk About Help-Seeking and Help-Giving in Relation to Dating Violence,” , Atlanta, Ga.: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, in press.

Jaycox LH, Mc Caffrey DF, Ocampo BW, Shelley GA, Blake SM, Peterson DJ, Richmond LS, and Kub JE, “Challenges in the Evaluation and Implementation of School-Based Prevention and Intervention Programs on Sensitive Topics,” This publication was supported by a cooperative agreement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC: US4/CCU918991).

Improving legal knowledge about dating violence may be a promising prevention element and could encourage victims of dating violence to seek help.

The results also suggest that another way to strengthen interventions is to target teen attitudes about seeking and giving help.

Students responded using a 5-point scale — rating a particular source’s helpfulness from zero (“not at all helpful”) to four (“extremely helpful”), and rating the likelihood of talking to that source from “not at all likely” to talk to the source (zero) to “extremely likely” to talk to the source (four) — see the figure.