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Youth exposed to domestic violence are at increased risk to be both a victim and perpetrator of dating violence. Yet we currently have no violence intervention protocols for this vulnerable group.To help fill the gap, NIJ funded an effort to adapt the successes of an existing evidence-based program, Families for Safe Dates, so it would be applicable to teens who are exposed to domestic violence.To adapt Families for Safe Dates for teens exposed to domestic violence, the researcher recruited 28 women (and 35 of their 12- to 15-year-old children) from four counties, either when the women were in court filing a domestic violence protection order or when the women were seeking services through public or community-based programs.In one rigorous NIJ-funded study, school-level interventions in 30 New York City public middle schools reduced dating violence by up to 50 percent.Researchers evaluated dating violence and sexual harassment interventions by randomly assigning classes to receive: Youth exposed to domestic violence are at greater risk for being both a victim and the perpetrator of dating violence.Classroom-level interventions were delivered in six sessions, using a curriculum emphasizing the consequences for perpetrators, state laws and penalties, the construction of gender roles, and healthy relationships.
This is an ideal time to promote healthy relationships and prevent patterns of relationship violence that can last into adulthood.Studies investigating the effectiveness of programs to prevent dating violence are beginning to show positive results.
Most programs focus on changing knowledge, attitudes and behaviors linked with dating violence while focusing on the skills needed to build healthy relationships.
The researchers noted that the classroom-level intervention alone was not effective in improving these outcomes.
In addition, students in the school-level intervention were more likely to intend to intervene as bystanders if they witnessed abusive behavior between their peers.
These findings are important in several ways: The success of the school-level intervention is particularly important because it can be implemented with very few extra costs to schools.