The report published in the August issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine found that approximately one in 10 to one in five high school–aged teens are hit, slapped or beaten by an individual they are dating each year, according to background information in the article. Wolfe, Director of CAMH’s Centre for Prevention Science, and colleagues conducted from 2001 to 2004 a randomized trial of a 21-lesson curriculum delivered by teachers with special training in the dynamics of dating violence and healthy relationships.
Dating violence among adolescents often leads to intimate partner violence in adulthood and also is associated with injuries, unsafe sex, substance use and suicide attempts. The program, known as the “Fourth R: Skills for Youth Relationships,” was taught to 968 students at 10 randomly selected high schools.
Public health approaches focus on preventing violence before it starts and have been shown to effectively reduce school and youth violence.
This known effectiveness stands in contrast to commonly used prevention strategies, such as metal detectors and other security measures, for which there is insufficient data to determine their benefits and some evidence to suggest that they may negatively impact students’ perceptions of safety.
A few programs frame the issue using a feminist perspective, while others use a more skills-based and gender-neutral approach.
One strategy for addressing these individual risks are universal, school-based violence prevention programs, which have been proven to reduce rates of aggression and violent behavior among students.Public health offers knowledge and experience in preventing school violence that can significantly enhance approaches to end school violence.Youth’s experiences, knowledge, and skills can influence their likelihood of becoming involved in violence.Another 754 students at 10 different schools were assigned to a control group, where similar objectives were targeted but without training or materials.When the adolescents were surveyed two and a half years later—at the end of grade 11—rates of physical dating violence were greater in the control students (9.8 percent) than in the students who participated in the program (7.4 percent).