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School-Based Interventions to Reduce Dating and Sexual Violence

NCJ Number
De La Rue Lisa ; Joshua R. Polanin ; Dorothy L. Espelage ; Terri D. Piggot
Date Published
November 2016
2 pages

This review summarizes evidence on programs to prevent dating violence implemented in middle and high schools (Grades 6-12).


This Campbell systematic review examines the effectiveness of school-based interventions to reduce or prevent violence in intimate relationships. The review focused on programs to change attitudes and beliefs, reduce perpetration and victimization, and change behaviors. The systematic review included 23 studies. Only studies of school-based interventions to reduce or prevent teen dating violence or sexual violence in intimate relationships were included. Some studies used previously developed programs, such as Love U2, Safe Dates, and Connections: Relationships and Marriage. Others used adapted or newly developed programs. To qualify for inclusion in the review, the programs had to measure the impacts of the interventions on one or more of the following: (a) knowledge about dating violence, (b) attitudes to dating violence, (c) acceptance of rape myths, (d) dating violence perpetration, (e) dating violence victimization, and (f) ability to recognize both safe and unhealthy behaviours in intimate partner disputes. Only studies with a well-defined control group were included. This systematic review summarizes data from 23 studies, 14 of which assessed as having a high risk of bias. The included studies were conducted in the USA and Canada. Prevention programs improve young people’s knowledge about, and attitudes towards, dating violence. These effects were sustained at follow up. Students in the intervention group showed moderate increases in knowledge about dating violence, a lower acceptance of stereotypical ‘rape myths’, and moderate improvements in appropriately resolving conflicts in interpersonal relationships. Programs to prevent violence in relationships are important, because of the impacts that violence has on adolescents’ well-being and the risk of its long-term consequences. Existing programs need to be designed to better support behavioral change. Skill-building components among pupils may help achieve this goal. (Published abstract provided)