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Practice Profile

School-Based Interventions to Reduce Dating and Sexual Violence

Evidence Ratings for Outcomes:

Effective - One Meta-Analysis Crime & Delinquency - Violent offenses
Effective - One Meta-Analysis Attitudes & Beliefs - Teen Dating Violence Knowledge
Effective - One Meta-Analysis Attitudes & Beliefs - Teen Dating Violence Attitudes
No Effects - One Meta-Analysis Victimization - Domestic/intimate partner/family violence

Practice Description

Practice Goals/Target Population
There are a number of violent behaviors that can constitute teen dating violence, including verbal or emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual assault, and threats of rape and murder (Fellmeth et al. 2014). School-Based Interventions to Reduce Dating and Sexual Violence include a range of universal-level programs aimed at increasing students’ knowledge about teen dating violence; changing attitudes or beliefs supportive of teen dating violence; improving conflict-management skills; and encouraging peer support and bystander involvement. The goal of the programs is to prevent or reduce incidences of teen dating violence perpetration and victimization and incidences of sexual violence in intimate adolescent relationships. The programs are targeted at students in grades 4-12.
 
Practice Components
School-based interventions that aim to reduce dating and sexual violence include primary programs (targeted at students who have never perpetrated or been victimized by dating violence) and secondary programs (intended for students who have committed or are victims of dating violence).
 
Many programs are at the universal level; that is, all students in a school or classroom are targeted by the intervention. For example, programs may include lessons that are provided to all students and educational posters that are placed on school walls and hallways for all to see.
 
There are a variety of activities or components that may be implemented in teen dating and sexual violence prevention programs. For younger students, programs may focus on changing the school culture or climate, in an effort to decrease aggression and promote respect among students. These programs generally work on encouraging students to be sympathetic and helpful to victims of dating violence and rejecting dating violence behaviors perpetrated by their peers.
 
For older students, such as those in middle and high school, programs generally focus on trying to change dating attitudes and behaviors. Programs include more activities to teach students skills that will foster healthy dating relationships, including skills to communicate effectively; deal constructively with stress, disappointment, or rejection; and resolve conflicts constructively. Students may also learn skills to protect themselves from the risk of violent victimization in a relationship.
 
Practice Theory
Reduction in dating violence is theorized to be a result of both attitude change and skill building. Shifting and changing the norms about dating violence and gender roles, as well as improving conflict-management skills, is thought to lead to a reduction in the onset and occurrence of teen dating violence (De La Rue et al. 2014).

Meta-Analysis Outcomes

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Effective - One Meta-Analysis Crime & Delinquency - Violent offenses
De La Rue and colleagues (2014) analyzed results from four studies and found that school-based interventions to reduce dating and sexual violence had a significant effect on the perpetration of dating violence among teens (average effect size = -0.11). This means that the students who participated in the programs reported initiating dating violence less often than students who did not participate in the programs.
Effective - One Meta-Analysis Attitudes & Beliefs - Teen Dating Violence Knowledge
De La Rue and colleagues (2014) analyzed results from eight studies and found that teen dating and sexual violence interventions were effective at improving knowledge of teen dating violence (average effect size = 0.36). Students who participated in teen dating and sexual violence interventions had greater knowledge about teen dating violence than students who did not participate in the programs.
Effective - One Meta-Analysis Attitudes & Beliefs - Teen Dating Violence Attitudes
De La Rue and colleagues (2014) analyzed results from six studies and found that teen dating and sexual violence interventions significantly improved teen dating violence attitudes of student participants (average effect size = 0.11).
No Effects - One Meta-Analysis Victimization - Domestic/intimate partner/family violence
De La Rue and colleagues (2014) analyzed the results across three studies and found dating and sexual violence interventions had no effect on teen dating violence victimization.
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Meta-Analysis Methodology

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Meta-Analysis Snapshot
 Literature Coverage DatesNumber of StudiesNumber of Study Participants
Meta-Analysis 11991 - 20132320500

Meta-Analysis 1
De La Rue and colleagues (2014) conducted a meta-analysis to examine the effectiveness of school-based interventions designed to reduce or prevent dating and sexual violence perpetration and victimization in intimate relationships. Studies were included if they had a well-defined control group (randomized control trials, quasi-randomized control trials, and quasi-experimental designs); had examined programs implemented in (public and private) middle and high schools (studies of programs that were not conducted in schools were excluded); had a primary goal of reducing or preventing teen dating violence or sexual violence; and had measured the impact of the program on attitude change, frequency of intimate partner violence perpetration or victimization, teen dating violence knowledge, or the ability to recognize safe and unsafe behaviors in intimate partner disputes. 
 
A comprehensive search of studies published between 1969 and 2013 was done to identify eligible studies. Electronic databases, government policy databanks, Internet search engines, and grey literature databases were searched. A total of 23 unique studies were found. Of these studies, 10 used random assignment, and 13 used non-random assignment. Participants in the studies were assigned at the individual, group, school, district, or state level. All of the studies were conducted in the United States with the exception of one, which was conducted in Canada. In regard to the age of study participants, 13 studies involved 9th-12th graders, and 10 studies involved 6th-8th graders. 
 
There were a number of different outcomes reported in the identified studies, including teen dating violence knowledge, teen dating violence attitudes, dating violence perpetration, and dating violence victimization. Effect sizes were converted to the d-metric and Hedges’ g. The review used a three-level, random-effects model for effect size synthesis.
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Cost

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There is no cost information available for this practice.
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Evidence-Base (Meta-Analyses Reviewed)

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These sources were used in the development of the practice profile:

Meta-Analysis 1
De La Rue Lisa, Joshua R. Polanin, Dorothy L. Espelage, and Terri D. Piggot. 2014. “School-Based Interventions to Reduce Dating and Sexual Violence: A Systematic Review.” Campbell Systematic Reviews 2014:7

http://www.campbellcollaboration.org/lib/project/268/
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Additional References

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These sources were used in the development of the practice profile:

Fellmeth, Gracia L.T., Catherine Heffernan, Joanna Nurse, Shakiba Habibula, and Dinesh Sethi. 2013. “Education and Skills-Based Interventions for Preventing Relationship and Dating Violence in Adolescent and Young Adults.” Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 6.
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Related Programs

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Following are CrimeSolutions.gov-rated programs that are related to this practice:

4th R Curriculum Promising - One study
The 4th R is an interactive classroom curriculum that aims to reduce youth dating violence by addressing youth violence and bullying, unsafe sexual behavior, and substance use. The program is rated Promising. The program was shown to significantly lower physical dating violence rates among boys. However, there was no significant difference in physical peer violence, substance use or condom use between the control and intervention groups.

Safe Dates Effective - One study
This is a school-based prevention program for middle and high school students designed to stop or prevent the initiation of dating violence victimization and perpetration. The program is rated Effective. Adolescents in the program reported perpetrating less psychological and sexual abuse at all four follow-up periods, compared with youths in the control group. There was a moderate effect of treatment on physical violence victimization.

Shifting Boundaries Promising - One study
A two-part intervention designed to reduce dating violence and sexual harassment among middle school youth by highlighting the consequences of this behavior for perpetrators and increasing faculty surveillance of unsafe areas. The program is rated Promising. The intervention groups had statistically significant outcome impacts, albeit with mixed results. The most important classroom activity was the hot spot mapping of unsafe areas that informed the schoolwide intervention.

Ending Violence No Effects - One study
A school-based program, taught over 3 school days by attorneys, in which students learn warning signs for dating violence and how the law works in relation to domestic violence. This program is rated No Effects. Results were mixed for all items except help-seeking and knowledge about dating violence and the law, in which the treatment group exhibited positive significant differences compared with the control group.

School Health Center Healthy Adolescents Relationships Program (SHARP) No Effects - One study
A high school-based, relationship abuse prevention program. The goal of the program was to identify students’ knowledge of abusive behaviors and teach them about relationship abuse and resources for its prevention. The program was rated No Effects. There was no significant impact on recognition, use, and knowledge of adolescent relationship abuse resources, and intentions to intervene, but participants had significantly greater increases in recognition of sexual coercion.

Brief Motivational Interviewing for Dating Aggression Promising - One study
This program aims to reduce harmful behavior with young adult couples who are unmarried and are not cohabitating. It uses a brief counseling method to address ambivalence toward behavioral change and encourage self-motivation for behavioral change. The program is rated Promising. This program was shown to significantly reduce reports of physical aggression and harmful alcohol consumption, but had no significant effect on reports of psychological aggression.

Youth Relationships Project Promising - One study
This was a community-based prevention program that targeted youths who were at risk of becoming involved in abusive relationships. The goals of the program were to increase youths’ awareness of the signs of an abusive relationship and teach them how to develop healthy, non-abusive relationships with dating partners. The program was rated Promising. The program was shown to significantly reduce abuse perpetration and victimization over time.

Social Learning/Feminist Intervention Promising - One study
This is a 12-session program for adolescent females with a history of exposure to violence/abuse and involvement in the child welfare system. The goal of the program was to reduce re-victimization in teen dating situations. The program used a health-promotion approach to help girls develop healthy relationships and to respond to abuse in their relationships. The program is rated Promising. The intervention was effective at reducing physical re-victimization, but not sexual re-victimization.

Risk Detection/Executive Function Intervention Promising - One study
This is a program for adolescent females with a history of violence/abuse and involvement in the child welfare system. The goal of the program was to reduce re-victimization in teen dating situations. The program used mindfulness-based, cognitive interventions to build skills for responding to risky situations and improving executive function (including reasoning and problem solving). The program is rated Promising. The intervention was shown to reduce sexual and physical re-victimization.
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Practice Snapshot

Age: 9 - 18

Gender: Both

Targeted Population: Children Exposed to Violence, Victims of Crime

Settings: School

Practice Type: Classroom Curricula, Conflict Resolution/Interpersonal Skills, School/Classroom Environment, Violence Prevention

Unit of Analysis: Persons

Researcher:
Josh Polanin
Senior Research Scientist
Development Services Group, Inc.
7315 Wisconsin Avenue, Suite 800 East
Bethesda MD 20814
Phone: 240.330.2681
Website
Email