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Program Profile: Social Learning/Feminist Intervention

Evidence Rating: Promising - One study Promising - One study

Date: This profile was posted on June 21, 2016

Program Summary

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.

Program Description

Program Goals
The Social Learning/Feminist (SL/F) program set out to reduce sexual and physical re-victimization in girls who had previously been exposed to maltreatment. 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 recognize and respond to abuse in their relationships.
Research has found that youths with histories of maltreatment show more hostility, lower problem-solving self-efficacy, and more aggression in interpersonal relationships (Brown et al. 1999; Wolfe et al. 2001; Wolfe et al. 1998). Additionally, deficits in various interpersonal skills (including assertiveness and communication skills) increase the risks that maltreated youths face in relationships. Finally, maltreating caregivers may pass along overly rigid gender roles that may lead girls to expect harm and power imbalances in their relationships.
Based on these findings, the SL/F program was developed based on the Youth Relationships Project, and had four aims:
1) Understanding power and its role in relationship violence
2) Developing skills needed to help adolescents build healthy relationships and to recognize and respond to abuse in their own relationships
3) Understanding the societal influences and pressures that can lead to violence and to develop skills to respond to these influences
4) Increasing competency through involvement and social action (see Wolfe et al., 1996, p. 7) 
Target Population/Eligibility
The SL/F program focused on adolescent females between the ages of 12–19. The participants were referred to the program (by their caseworkers, service providers, or legal guardians) because they were currently or previously involved with the child welfare system and had a history of maltreatment exposure. They were also eligible for the program if they 1) did not report current suicidal ideation, 2) were receiving current treatment services for reported suicide attempts or psychiatric hospitalizations within the last 3 to 6 months, and 3) were receiving current treatment services for reported self-harm behavior or psychosis.
Program Theory
As indicated by its name, the Social Learning/Feminist program was based on social learning theory and feminist perspectives. According to social learning theory, children learn through conditioning and modeling (Bandura 1977); therefore, children exposed to violence are likely to learn from their violent caregivers that violence is an acceptable way to resolve conflict (DePrince et al. 2013). Based on this perspective, it is assumed that these children may also fail to develop interpersonal skills (Finkelhor and Brown 1986), sexual decision-making and communication skills (Zurbriggen and Freyd 2004), and the ability to accurately interpret socio-emotional information (DePrince 2005; Pollak and Tolley-Schell 2003), which increases the risk of victimization or perpetration of violence in dating relationships (DePrince et al. 2013).
In accordance with feminist theory, adolescent girls may learn overly rigid gender roles from maltreating caregivers and in turn may expect that their relationships will involve harm to women and imbalances in power between the male and female (Wolfe at al. 2003). 
Program Activities
To create the SL/F program, the Youth Relationships Project Manual was modified. The Youth Relationships Project ( was a prevention program that targeted youths who were at risk of becoming involved in abusive relationships, using a health-promotion approach and was based on social learning and feminist theories (Wolfe et al. 1996, 2003). The original Youth Relationships Project Manual was shortened to 12 rather than 18 sessions, and to 1.5 hours rather than 2 hours per session. The multimedia examples in the curriculum were also updated (DePrince et al. 2013). 
The program was implemented outside of school, in a community-based location. Each of the 12 sessions had a detailed theme, including:
  1. Introduction to the Group (meeting other members, establishing rules)
  2. Power in Relationships: Explosions and Assertions
  3. Defining Relationship Violence: Power Abuses
  4. Defining Power in Relationships: Equality, Empathy, and Emotional Expressiveness
  5. Defining Power in Relationships: Assertiveness Instead of Aggressiveness
  6. Date Rape: Being Clear, Being Safe, and Learning How to Handle Dating Pressure
  7. Gender Socialization and Societal Pressure
  8. Choosing Partners and Sex Role Stereotypes
  9. Sexism and the Influence of the Media
  10. Confronting Sexism and Violence Against Women and Identifying Community Helpers for Relationship Violence
  11. Taking Action: Using What You’ve Learned to Help Others
  12. End of Group Celebration  
Key Personnel
Two co-facilitators covered the content of the program, using the SL/F program manuals. The co-facilitators were graduate-level trainees and received weekly supervision from the program developer. The program developer also served as a co-facilitator.

Evaluation Outcomes

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Study 1
Sexual Re-victimization
DePrince and colleagues (2013) found that at 6 months after treatment, there was not a significant difference in sexual re-victimization between the girls in the Social Learning/Feminist group and the comparison group. 
Physical Re-victimization
At 6 months after treatment, the girls who participated in the Social Learning/Feminist program were found to be 2.5 times more likely not to be physically re-victimized, compared with the girls in the comparison group.
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Evaluation Methodology

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Study 1
DePrince and colleagues (2013) used a quasi-experimental design study to assess the effects of the Social Learning/Feminist (SL/F) intervention on physical and sexual re-victimization. The program took place in Denver and the surrounding areas. Adolescent girls between 12 and 19 were referred to participate in the Healthy Adolescent Relationship Project (HARP) by their caseworkers, foster parents, or service providers. Referred adolescents were assessed prior to being randomized into a treatment condition. Eligible participants were randomly assigned into two different treatment groups (i.e., the SL/F intervention, described here, and the Risk Detection/Executive Function intervention, described in a separate program description). The sample also comprised a non-random comparison group of eligible individuals who did not participate in either group. 
There were no significant pre-treatment differences between the groups. The SL/F group consisted of 67 adolescent girls. Of the 57 girls who shared race data, 30 percent were white, 40 percent were black, 4 percent were Asian/Asian American, 5 percent were American Indian/Native Alaskan/Native American, and 21 percent were other races. The comparison group consisted of 42 individuals, 34 of whom provided race information. The comparison group was 35 percent white, 32 percent black, 3 percent Asian/Asian American, 6 percent American Indian/Native Alaskan/Native American, 21 percent other races, and 3 percent unknown (declined to answer). 
Participants in the study engaged in four, 2-hour assessments. These occurred prior to the intervention (Time 1), immediately after the intervention (Time 2), and again 2 and 6 months after the intervention (Times 3 and 4). The presence/absence of re-victimization was measured using a combination of data gathered from the Traumatic Events Screening Inventory–Child Version (TESI–C), which gauged previous trauma exposure, and the Conflict in Adolescent Dating Relationship Inventory (CADRI), which assessed dating violence. Linear contrast analysis on estimates derived from a repeated measures, generalized estimating equation (GEE) approach was used to determine the effects of the program on sexual and physical re-victimization at Times 2, 3, and 4.
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There is no cost information available for this program.
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Implementation Information

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DePrince and colleagues (2013) developed a checklist to assess fidelity to the Social Learning/Feminist intervention curricula.

For example, for Session 3 (“Defining Relationship Violence: Power Abuses”), implementation should include videos and discussions on dating violence, myths and facts about violence against women, and cover personal rights.
Further examples of specific items assessed in the checklist are provided in the original report, available at
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Other Information

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Social Learning/Feminist intervention is an adaptation of the Youth Relationships Project (, in that it includes only 12 (instead of 18) sessions and each session lasts 1.5 hours (instead of 2 hours).
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Evidence-Base (Studies Reviewed)

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

Study 1
DePrince, Anne P., Ann T. Chu, Jennifer Labus, Stephen R. Shirk, and Cathryn Potter. 2013. Preventing Revictimization in Teen Dating Relationships. Technical Report. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, National Institute of Justice.
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Additional References

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

Bandura, Alfred. 1977. “Self-Efficacy: Toward a Unifying Theory of Behavioral Change.” Psychological Review84(2):191–215.

Brown, J.,P. Cohen, J.G. Johnson, and E.M. Smailes.1999.“Childhood Abuse and Neglect: Specificity of Effects on Adolescents and Young Adult Depression and Suicidality.” Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 38:1490–96.

DePrince, Anne P. 2005. “Social Cognition and Revictimization Risk.” Journal of Trauma and Dissociation 6:125–41.

Finkelhor, David, and Angela Browne. 1986. “Initial and Long-term Effects: A Conceptual Framework.” In David Finkelhor (ed.). A Sourcebook on Child Sexual Abuse. Newbury Park, Calif.: Sage, 180–98.

Pollak, Seth D., and Stephanie A. Tolley-Schell. 2003. “Selective Attention to Facial Emotion in Physically Abused Children.” Journal of Abnormal Psychology 112(3):323–38.

Wolfe, David A., Katreena Scott, Deborah Reitzel-Jaffe, Christine Wekerle, Carolyn Grasley, and Anna Lee Straatman. 2001. “Development and Validation of the Conflict in Adolescent Dating Relationships Inventory.” Psychological Assessment 13:277-293.

Wolfe, David A., Christine Wekerle, Deborah Reitzel-Jaffe, and Lorraine Lefebvre. 1998. “Factors Associated with Abusive Relationships Among Maltreated and Nonmaltreated Youth.” Development and Psychopathology 10:61–85.

Wolfe, David A., Christine Wekerle, Robert Gough, Deborah Reitzel-Jaffe, Carolyn Grasley, Anna-Lee Pittman, Lorraine Lefebvre, and Jennifer Stumpf. 1996. The Youth Relationships Manual: A Group Approach with Adolescents for the Prevention of Woman Abuse and the Promotion of Healthy Relationships. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage.

Wolfe, David A., Christine Wekerle, Katreena Scott, Anna-Lee Straatman, Carolyn Grasley, and Deborah Reitzel-Jaffe. 2003. “Dating Violence Prevention with At-Risk Youth: A Controlled Outcome Evaluation.” Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 71:279–91.

Zurbriggen, Eileen L., and Jennifer J. Freyd. 2004. “The Link Between Childhood Sexual Abuse and Risky Sexual Behavior: The Role of Dissociative Tendencies, Information-Processing Effects, and Consensual Sex Decision Mechanisms.” In L.J. Koenig, L.S. Doll, A. O’Leary, and W. Pequegnat (eds.). From Child Sexual Abuse to Adult Sexual Risk: Trauma, Revictimization, and Intervention Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association, 135–58.
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Related Practices

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Following are practices that are related to this program:

School-Based Interventions to Reduce Dating and Sexual Violence
This practice includes universal-level prevention and intervention programs in schools that aim to reduce or prevent teen dating violence perpetration and victimization. The practice is rated Effective for reducing perpetration of teen dating violence and improving dating violence knowledge and attitudes. The practice is rated No Effects for reducing teen dating violence victimization.

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
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Program Snapshot

Age: 12 - 19

Gender: Female

Race/Ethnicity: Black, American Indians/Alaska Native, Asian/Pacific Islander, Hispanic, White, Other

Geography: Suburban, Urban

Setting (Delivery): Other Community Setting

Program Type: Classroom Curricula, Conflict Resolution/Interpersonal Skills, Gender-Specific Programming, Victim Programs, Children Exposed to Violence, Violence Prevention

Targeted Population: Females, Victims of Crime, Children Exposed to Violence

Current Program Status: Not Active

Listed by Other Directories: Model Programs Guide

Anne DePrince
Department of Psychology, University of Denver
2155 S. Race Street
Denver CO 80208