Title

Effectiveness of a Teen Dating Violence Prevention Program in Middle Schools

Date of Award

May 2019

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Advisor(s)

Ambika Krishnakumar

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences

Abstract

Dating violence is described as the perpetration and/or victimization that may take the forms of unsolicited and harmful physical, sexual or verbal acts. Gaining insight into adolescent dating violence affords the opportunity to disrupt violent behaviors in early dating relationships. Given the prevalence of youth dating violence, the goal of this investigation is to assess the effectiveness of a middle school dating violence prevention program. Different from other investigations that have primarily focused on the reductions in perpetration and victimization behaviors, our goal in this investigation was to also assess changes in (a) attitudes about the acceptability of harassing, abusive, and violent behaviors; (b) knowledge of rape laws and resources; (c) behavioral intentions to avoid violence; and (d) behavioral intentions to intervene as a bystander for those participants enrolled in prevention programs vs. those in the control group. Middle school teen dating violence prevention programs aim to reduce dating violence behaviors as well as make changes among teens in their (a) attitudes about the acceptability of violent behaviors; (b) knowledge about rape laws and resources; (c) behavioral intentions to avoid violence; and (d) behavioral intentions to intervene as a bystander. Although around 35% of teens experienced victimization or perpetration, the intervention program was not successful in reducing the prevalence of physical and sexual dating violence perpetration and victimization. Findings indicated sex differences in attitudes, knowledge, behavioral intentions to avoid or intervene over time, but no differences were indicated by program participation.

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