During the preteen and teen years, young people are learning the skills they need to form positive, healthy relationships with others, and it is therefore an ideal time to promote healthy relationships and prevent patterns of teen dating violence that can last into adulthood.
Learn more about characteristics of healthy and unhealthy relationships.
Activities aimed at increasing awareness and dispelling myths about violence in relationships are often included in the curriculum.
The Safe Dates Project is an intervention that includes school activities (e.g., a theater production performed by peers, a curriculum of ten 45-minute sessions taught by health and physical education teachers, and a poster contest) and community activities (e.g., services for adolescents in abusive relationships and service provider training).
For example, higher levels of bonding to parents and enhanced social skills can protect girls against victimization.
Similarly, for boys, high levels of parental bonding have been found to be associated with less externalizing behavior, which in turn is associated with less teen dating violence victimization.
In addition to teaching relationship skills, prevention programs can focus on promoting protective factors—that is, characteristics of a teen’s environment that can support healthy development—and positive youth development.
These can also be fostered by a teen’s home and community.
A few programs frame the issue using a feminist perspective, while others use a more skills-based and gender-neutral approach.
Teen dating violence prevention programs tend to focus on attitudes about violence, gender stereotyping, conflict management, and problem-solving skills.
A four-year follow-up study found reductions in the likelihood of being a victim or a perpetrator of moderate psychological and physical violence as well as sexual violence among the eighth- and ninth-grade students from North Carolina who had participated in the Safe Dates Project; however, there were no reductions in the likelihood of being a victim of Further, findings showed that those students involved in the Safe Dates Project reported less acceptance of dating violence and traditional gender roles, a stronger belief in the need for help, and more awareness of services available in the community.
Ending Violence is a curriculum designed for high school students that focuses on educating youth about the legal repercussions and protections for perpetrators and victims of dating violence.