Teen Dating Violence Workshop Proceedings
July 24-25, 2006
Grand Hyatt Hotel, Washington, D.C.
Facilitator: Bernie Auchter, NIJ
Notetakers: Karen Bachar, Nicole Gaskin-Laniyan,
and Carrie Mulford, NIJ
Table of Contents
Welcome and Introductions
Definitions/Scope of Problem
Causes and Correlates of Teen Dating Violence
Community and School-Based Prevention and Intervention Programs
Justice System Responses to Teen Dating Violence
Overview of Day 1/Day 2 Welcome
Community Coordination Around Teen Dating Violence
Wrapup and Recommendations
Welcome and Introductions
Bernie Auchter opened the meeting, thanked the attendees, and described the agenda and format of the meeting. He then introduced
Glenn Schmitt, the Acting Director of NIJ, who opened the meeting with the following remarks:
"Welcome to each of you. On behalf of myself and my colleagues at NIJ, I would like to thank you for attending and participating
in this important meeting. Robert Flores, Director of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, and Regina
B. Schofield, Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs, will be joining you tomorrow; unfortunately I
will not be able to.
"Let me highlight the importance of this meeting. There has been little research done on teen dating violence. This topic
is not addressed in NIJ's research portfolio. There are broad gaps in knowledge that need to be informed by program evaluation.
Are there commonalities between intimate partner violence and teen dating violence or are they completely different phenomena?
"Intimate partner violence is underreported by both victims and the police. Teen dating violence may be even worse. With sexual
assault we know that more than half of all women are victimized prior to age 18. Can the cycle be broken with early prevention?
Parents are seldom aware of what their teens are going through and do not believe that teen dating violence is an issue that
can or needs to be addressed.
"Teens are unwilling to report teen dating violence. Sexual violence and intimate partner violence crime trends seem to be
down, but we know that reporting rates are low. We must encourage reporting of interpersonal crime from an early age.
"We must also encourage research on interpersonal crime in other contexts to inform practice and policy. Research must employ
multiple approaches and include partners from diverse backgrounds within the practitioner community. Dating violence is a
topic in the new Violence Against Women Act and will be of interest to you all. It is important for research and practice
to come together. On behalf of all of us, thank you."
Participants introduced themselves by giving their name, affiliation, and connection to the topic of teen dating violence.
Mr. Auchter then defined parameters to help focus the discussion and gave a working definition of teen dating violence. Parameters
- Use Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) definition of teen dating violence.
- No statutory rape.
- Middle school/high school focus.
- Include only behaviors that occur in the context of a crush/romantic relationship, not other types of youth violence.
Back to Top
Definitions/Scope of Problem
Maura O'Keefe, who has published extensively in the area of teen dating violence, provided the topic introduction.
Research shows that the differences in estimates of the incidence and prevalence of teen dating violence range from 9 to 57
percent, depending on the study. Factors that may influence how the scope of the problem is estimated include:
- There is a lack of consensus related to how types of teen dating violence are defined and operationalized. Some definitions
include psychological and emotional components and some measure only physical violence. Sexual violence is generally excluded
when definitions of teen dating violence are developed.
- Timeframes for studies differ. Some studies look at defined periods, ranging from 6 months to a year, and others ask if the
event has ever been experienced. These different timeframes make it difficult to compare across studies.
- There is a lot of ambiguity in terms of how dating "relationships" are defined. Who is a partner, what is a date? Research
shows that adolescents don't "date" in the traditional sense. They may go out with someone one or two times, they may not
count these as "dates," and these types of relationships are not usually included in criminal justice estimates.
- Most samples used to assess dating violence are based on convenience samples, which limits generalizability. Also, samples
tend to mix middle and high school students with college students. Sampling needs to be done in more developmentally discrete
increments and in ways that promote our ability to make more generalizable conclusions. Studies need to focus on middle school
and high school students separately and be developmentally appropriate for those populations.
- The reliability of self-report data may be impacted by social desirability, which leads males to underreport and females to
overreport what we are calling teen dating violence. This is a question that needs to be empirically validated. Current measurement
tools such as the Conflict Tactics Scale are problematic because they do not cover the range of violent behaviors teens engage
in. Also, when looking at differences in how teens use violent behavior in "relationships," meaning, motive, and context are
important, but are not captured.
- Gender is an issue with implications for research and intervention programs. Nonsexual violence in dating relationships may
be "mutual," but who gets hurt the most? Who suffers the most consequences? Current research shows that girls suffer more
physical and emotional consequences.
- We need to do more research on developmental differences. Motivations for violence are different. We also need to know more
about gender specificity in the use of violence to develop interventions. How does gender play a role in dating violence?
Do boys and girls use violence for different reasons? Does it start out being playful and end up violent? When does it change?
Back to Top
Open Discussion/Research Questions Identified
Participant comment: When teaching kids, one major obstacle is trying to teach them what is and what is not appropriate in
terms of physical interactions and behaviors. Kids say, "We are just kidding." Is that a reason to let it happen? Also, societal
rules are changing, and parents are not as involved in their kids' lives as they used to be. How are children being raised?
The problem of violence begins so much earlier today than in previous generations. What are the rules for teens developing
relationships? Who knows? Kids try to learn what's appropriate in terms of dating relationships from the people around them.
Because of this, kids may experience things they know "aren't right" or that do not feel right but they can't, or won't speak
up. They do not know who to talk to. At school, we encourage the kids to make connections with counselors and other adults.
But at this point, more people in schools need to be trained to recognize the signs that lead to violence and they also need
to be trained in how to intervene. In sum, there are problems with definitions. Research as it's done now may not have the
answers because researchers' definition of dating violence is not the same as teens' definition of dating violence.
Participant comment: Continued Federal research in this area is important. One major problem is that questions about physical
and sexual violence tend to be grouped together making it difficult to tease them apart. Why did this happen? It is important
to disaggregate physical and sexual violence in future research. There are multiple sources of data and information that can
to be looked at to address this issue.
Participant comment: Teen dating violence is a critical topic. CDC is currently addressing this issue through internal research
and extramural funding. We have a long way to go to educate people within and outside of the government. CDC is currently
conducting a national study that adds a component on meaning and motive and social desirability to teen dating violence studies.
Participant comment: A recent meta-analysis of dating violence studies showed that 90 percent of the studies use act/behavior
scales (like the Conflict Tactics Scale, these are referred to as ACT scales). These do not cover the context or complexity
of teen dating violence so they've made little progress in measuring the phenomena. Teen dating violence is a complex, heterogeneous
problem comprised of different factors. There are typologies. Types of violence vary by the motivation. It is important to
look beyond simple power and control issues.
Participant comment: There are variations in the courts, that is, differences in how the justice system defines teen dating
violence. Some judges define teen dating violence as including physical violence, property violence, harassment, and stalking
by e-mail in their legal definition. Other judges only consider an event to be teen dating violence if it is demonstrated
by violent injury and occurred in the context of a relationship.
Participant comment: The cultural definition of teen dating violence may vary between ethnicities and genders. Some men may
see it as normal to slap girls around. It is important to assess cultural variations in teen dating violence.
Participant comment: It is important to consider how we frame the problem. There is a big difference between the traditional
definition of "teen dating violence" that research uses and what youths actually experience. When trying to understand the
range of teens experiencing dating violence, it is important to include developmental growth as a factor. One key item that
may move change would be if researchers were allowed to ask questions about teen dating violence in mainstream school settings.
It would also help if they asked about delinquency and dependency. Unfortunately, these topics are very difficult to approach
in school settings. How would we get access to these populations to ask questions? If we could get permission from the schools
and the parents, we still have to get permission from IRBs [internal review boards] and that presents difficulties.
Participant comment: Also, how does teen dating violence connect to other activities such as prostitution? As we look at strategies
to investigate these things it is important not to further criminalize young people. Incarceration should not be the default
approach. Rehabilitation should be the focus, not incarceration. What are other ways to intervene when teen dating violence
occurs, what kind of secondary prevention can be accomplished?
Participant comment: There is marked heterogeneity in how teens express themselves physically. Some teens flirt by pushing,
pinching, slapping: things that could be considered criminal. By aggregating these behaviors on a questionnaire, we lose information
that could help us to more effectively intervene. We need to reconsider the way we ask questions.
Participant comment: ACT scales are an improvement over simply asking yes/no questions and can be modified to collect better
information from youth. Some ACT scales even have developmental components.
Participant comment: Is teen dating violence underreported or not? Probably, we don't know. When a school shooting occurs,
people ask: "Were there signs? Why didn't anyone see this coming?" Do we know what the risk factors for school shootings are?
Do they overlap with teen dating violence? I think we will see a number of warning signs that include being a bully and being
"outed" in school.
Participant comment: Research on typologies is gaining attention in the adult intimate partner violence (IPV) field. This
work tends to focus on tensions, controlling behaviors, situational violence, and other theoretical issues. Do these theories
hold up in practice, and do they indicate patterns of "intimate terrorism?" Would these theories hold up when studying teen
dating violence? Also, typologies may be different based on gender. The use of typological approach may take away from the
message of power-control. Sometimes adults get into relationships that they can't get out of. With teens, dating is different.
There is tremendous complexity, who knows if there is overlap?
Participant comment: I would say there are research gaps here. We need to understand the developmental differences in adolescent
contexts of dating before we develop measurement tools that address teen dating violence. We need to be able to use the right
phrases that are age and possibly even regionally appropriate to connect to their world. We need to understand that there
is heterogeneity in teen dating violence. There are differences in context of where teen dating violence may occur. It may
occur in the context of "play" or "self defense" or as a response to someone else who was "playing." It may also occur as
part of an actual "date" or in a group situation. How do you account for the differences in context with teens? The concept
of intimate terrorism in teen dating violence is not straightforward.
Participant comment: The concept of violent terrorism at 12 is problematic. It is not a good idea to criminalize these behaviors;
it's not a good idea to treat teens as criminals when they are moving through developmental stages. The issues of power and
control are also different for teens. Teens deal with power and control within school hierarchies, with teachers, with parents,
at jobs, and potentially other situations. Power and control is very different from what is meant with adult populations.
Participant comment: You also need input from teens of color. Addressing diversity is important when you look at teen dating
Participant comment: Yes, diversity is important, in general. It would be a good idea to have focus groups with youth to learn
more about dating behaviors. While these may be challenging to do, it is important not to transfer what we know about adult
dating to teens.
Participant comment: I would support the collection of national data on teen dating violence. Preliminary work needs to be
done to improve the definition of teen dating violence. What is the reality of TDV? Is it the same for boys and girls, does
it differ by age group, by economic level, by culture? There are many ways in which teen dating violence can be different.
There is also the issue of nature versus nurture, what kinds of messages these kids get from their families, and how much
parental messages (direct and indirect) factor in? We need to involve teens in defining this.
Participant comment: Perhaps we should use the term "teen relationship violence" and include bullying, harassment, and IPV.
Teen dating violence is a dated term. The use of "mutual violence" as a focus takes away funding and dismisses the gender
Participant comment: Let us draw a parallel to parental child abuse. A parent would not say I'm allowed to do X to my child
if I say I am only joking" because of how the courts define abuse. How is it that part of youth culture defines joking as
an acceptable reason for violence? Some may say they are joking when they are not, how could anyone tell what type of violence
happens when someone is joking? If you only ask teens to report what they're doing, they'll say "no." You must look at consequences
(impact on person) because the challenge is that a person could be abused but not have an injury.
Participant comment: We need to focus on the younger population. It is also important to look at the continuum of young people's
experiences. Antisocial behavior in the fifth grade morphs and mutates as children get older and can evolve to adult-like
IPV. By the fifth or sixth grade, you can see behavioral and developmental differences already. Kids are starting to hang
out, but it's different from traditional dating. Young girls hang out with or date much older guys (not necessarily high school
age). This happens a lot.
Participant comment: We need to know more about flirting and "play fighting," how do these play fights start, what are the
dynamics? It's as if they're testing the boundaries. Girls may be acting in self-defense. Teen victims' perception of self-defense
and power and control differs from how others see it. They may perceive they are being controlled, they may or may not be
acting in self-defense; we do not know.
Participant comment: We do not know the scope of problem. The press wants numbers and trends. The Choose Respect Campaign
is an important effort we hope gets more press. Why aren't more focus groups used to understand what is going on in this area?
We need more qualitative work; other focus groups showed us that boys did not use violence in their relationships directly,
instead they asked another girl to beat up their girlfriend when there was a problem.
Participant comment: With teen dating violence there is a continuum, which includes teasing and harassment. There are also
differences in developmental stages. Prevention messages must be aimed at younger ages. Other issues such as homophobia in
dating violence or girls submitting to sex to disprove being gay must also be considered.
Participant comment: Yes, we need to focus on teasing, joking, community norms messages, not wanting other kids to push, pinch,
in short, to be respectful. This should be a priority. Girls can also be defined as perpetrators; we need to remember that,
but in what context?
Participant comment: If you prioritize on the worst behaviors, the students will disappear. Instead, it is important to address
everyday violence that occurs with youth. That is where we can make differences.
Participant comment: We have to consider context. I work with young men, and it is important to determine if we are going
to go to a court punishment model or work with them as allies, as men in conflict who we teach, who we mentor. We have to
work with young men and help them realize what's going on. Do they want to be bad, or do they want to be good? They all want
to be good, they just don't know how. Foster care placement gets them deeper into being depersonalized, often they are bullied,
and they lose trust. This does not help. It would be important to do a survey to understand the root causes of what happens
to young men and to help us learn how to make young men allies. These surveys have to be administered more than once in a
focus group setting.
Participant comment: We could use lawsuits as materials for focus groups, materials from depositions. We could find in them
what the kids' experiences were. Sometimes boys sexually harass girls to prove they are not gay. The climate teens grow up
in involves the "policing of masculinity." Where does this fit on the continuum? Schools and other public arenas normalize
violence. It is a very serious problem when you hear fifth-grade boys say, "I was only kidding" when they pass their girlfriends
around to have oral sex with others in bathrooms and buses.
Participant comment: Do kids this age realize the damage and harm of these behaviors, or do they live by a "if it feels fine,
it's ok" credo? Some may understand but I think some don't. There is a need to work with teachers. They don't always recognize
what is happening.
Participant comment: What do you think it would take to make teachers and administrators realize what they think is "kids
play" is actually violence? When working with the kids they don't always realize the full impact of what they see, and they
tend to think, "boys will be boys." There needs to be increased training to deal with this type of behavior.
Participant comment: Girl recipients of "flirting" and "play fighting" develop symptoms of depression. Developmentally, when
does this evolve into teen dating violence?
Participant comment: Is the continuum we have been talking about truly a developmental pattern or is it a cultural pattern
of endorsement at various stages of development? Are there other populations we have not talked about?
Participant comment: What about gang involvement?
Participant comment: We need to know about experiences of gay and lesbian youth and dating violence.
Back to Top
Causes and Correlates of Teen Dating Violence
Topic Introduction: Risk and Protective Factors Associated With Teen Dating Violence
Dr. David Wolfe, who has a background in child abuse, provided the topic introduction.
"Early adolescence is a time when we can stop the cycle. It is a time of important learning opportunities. Relationships are
both the risk and protective factors for teen dating violence. With regard to family influences, what you grow up with sets
the stage for how you expect a relationship to go, how you treat people, and how you end up getting treated. As far as family
influences that are risk factors, maltreatment is a predictor of domestic violence perpetration. Monitoring, cohesiveness,
and protectiveness are family-based protective factors.
"On the individual level, trauma-based responses and anger mediate the relationship between an abusive home environment and
teen dating violence and approaches to dealing with current relationships. Not much about teen dating violence behavior is
explained at the individual level.
"Some developmental influences include gay bashing. Gender-based views are used to make sense of confusing matters going on
around youth in a very negative way. Kids who aren't behaving like a "normal" girl or boy are attacked either by teasing,
bullying, or harassment. Kids face an enormous amount of pressure to conform and they have difficulties in signaling intimacy.
Their confusion stems from what kids see in the media and at home.
"Peer culture and social influences contribute to the problem of teen dating violence. Kids grow up in a culture where violence
is seen as attractive. Something has to be really violent to be labeled as violent. Achievement, caring about school, feeling
safe at school, and feeling connected to school are all protective factors. Striving for adult autonomy is another risk factor
for teen dating violence. Kids who are early starters are more likely to be involved in relationship violence. Kids overestimate
what other kids are doing by a factor of three or four times.
"Brain development is immature and can be damaged by alcohol. Technology has emerged as a new mechanism for kids to bully
Back to Top
Open Discussion/Research Questions Identified
Participant comment: Early adolescence, between the ages of 10 and 15, is a key time. [The participant made the analogy that
an early adolescent is like Jell-O in the preformed stage.] Because of civil rights laws, educators aren't supposed to allow
kids to say "gay" or "bitch" in school. It's a helpful tool to educate kids about what these words mean. Neglected kids don't
get services or family guidance, so they usually rely on what peers and the media tell them is acceptable. Girls hear that
violence in the context of a relationship is acceptable.
Participant comment: We can't overemphasize the effects of harsh parenting and parental DV on kids. The nature of schools
has changed over 20 or 30 years. They now have their own police forces. Schools no longer have the primary responsibility
for making youth feel safe.
Participant comment: All risk and protective factors are the same as for other problems. What stands out is ignorance as one
risk factor for TDV. There is an unwillingness to identify and/or address the issue. Teachers, coaches, and church leaders
who see it and don't say anything are contributing to the problem. Also, we need to pay attention to the strict gender role
stereotypes that reinforce the ways boys and girls are expected to act. Changes in gender role stereotypes are confusing and
have young women feeling empowered and have left young men not knowing how to act. How does confusion around changing stereotypes
influence the development of healthy relationships and expectations for relationships?
Participant comment: We must push to do multilevel studies that look at risk factors from different levels—schools, neighborhood
characteristics, peer networks, and biology. We have to use multilevel analyses and look at the interaction between levels.
We are far behind in TDV compared to sexual assault and pregnancy prevention.
Participant comment: We should encourage researchers to try to get into schools. With regard to gender roles, girls use words
as power to be equal to guys. A kid who isn't acting in a healthy way is often having trouble in school, too. This can be
used as a way to interest educators in the issue of TDV.
Participant comment: Gender sensitivity in risk factors is something we need to pay attention to. For example, in delinquency
research we found that school connectedness is important to girls, but school fairness is important to boys.
Participant comment: There has been a wealth of social science research over the years indicating that kids who report victimization
also report other problem behaviors, including suicide attempts.
Participant comment: Some risk factors have to do with general problem behaviors, some of which have been dealt with successfully.
For example, parenting programs that work on reducing harsh parenting with conduct disordered children. Do interventions with
younger kids, like these parenting programs, have an effect on TDV?
Participant comment: Adult batterers are engaged in other criminal behavior as well, and the same is true for adolescents.
Early onset of sexual behavior and prior delinquency are some of the factors we should be looking at. In terms of immediate
causal factors, lots of kids talk about jealousy — it's a theme that is so constant. We can't ignore that.
Participant comment: Young men lack male role models for healthy relationships.
Participant comment: We might need to reevaluate how kids access interventions. Youth will be more likely to participate if
we engage them as allies.
Participant comment: The legal context keeps shifting. Zero tolerance has destroyed schools and has created a political climate
that demonizes children and provides Federal funding for cops in schools but not social workers. No Child Left Behind rules
the schools. The content is all about testing, leaving no time for health and sex education. Schools have long lists of suspendable
offenses that have grown out of zero tolerance. Kids are then wandering the streets becoming a police problem. Instead of
educating, we throw kids out of school. We have to pay attention to laws and funding patterns.
Participant comment: Multilevel studies are needed. We need to pay attention to the complexity of kids' lives. TDV is at the
bottom of the priority list for many youth. Many victims have kids and the abusive partner may be providing for the child.
Access to education, staying off streets, staying sober, staying out of jail may be of higher priority than relationship violence.
Many kids are living in a wartime mentality, dealing with drugs, gangs, and crime, where survival is the key issue. We need
to be sensitive to gender and culture communities. Rural communities have similar issues. Lack of other opportunities is another
Participant comment: In the realm of huge problems, we have to start with the problems that are fixable. We do lots of work
in schools because that is where we have a captive audience. If you can tie it back to education, schools will remain interested.
It's easy to find the people who access services. It's important to find the people who can't. We need to hook up with programs
that track children and work with children over the long term, like "I Have a Dream."
Participant comment: We have to work on how to respond to youth when we see risk factors or a youth comes forward to report
relationship violence. We need research on this for educators, parents, and peers. What are effective responses?
Participant comment: We don't have as much to offer about what skills kids need to learn to have a healthy relationship. How
do we teach these skills to kids? There may also be a racial/cultural dynamic. In one group meeting, African-American boys
said that if a girl went home with them after school it meant she wanted to have sex. They said that boys from some other
races might have girls over just to watch TV.
Participant comment: We need more longitudinal studies so we can distinguish predictors from consequences. We can't know how
adolescent TDV progresses into adulthood without longitudinal studies, including multivariate analyses and trajectories across
adolescence. What are the factors that might predict domestic violence? Does bullying have an effect on TDV? We need longitudinal
research. We can use past bullying intervention studies and look at how adolescents are now.
Participant comment: Compare the framing of adult IPV as "intentional" with how we frame teen dating violence. The intent
of abuse is different for youth and adults. What are the implications for interventions?
Participant comment: We need national collection of data on these issues. Longitudinal research is needed. It's hard to get
funding for programs when data is sparse or all over the place. We need data.
Back to Top
Maureen Murphy of the American Bar Association (ABA) introduced Rae Spence. Ms. Spence told her powerful and moving story
about being the victim of teen dating violence and the reaction of school personnel, her parents, her abuser's parents, students,
coaches, and the community. Her abuser later murdered his next girlfriend, which inspired Ms. Spence to travel the country
telling her story so that other girls like her could get help.
Participant comment: School resource officers are not being trained to recognize the signs of dating violence. Training for
teachers, principals, and school resource officers can be done now.
Participant comment: This is a reminder that TDV can go across all lines—all kids—it could happen to anyone, so we need to
address this with everyone.
Ms. Spence: After the murder of my friend, I dropped out of school because I didn't feel safe.
Participant comment: Do you think the fact that he was a star football player was that a factor?
Ms. Spence: Yes. The coach acted like I was causing the trouble.
Participant comment: This is a problem because athletes learn that they have the right to treat people like that and then
the response to TDV perpetration enforces these attitudes. We need to train all the staff, even bus drivers.
Participant comment: The warning usually happens after a tragedy. That's when we can identify points of intervention.
Questions raised about teaching youth about TDV included:
- Do we have models for support groups for victims of TDV?
- Does the spacing of sessions matter?
- Is it better to use a discussion-based or didactic approach?
- Should homework, videos, and role-plays be used?
- Should there be a knowledge, attitudes, or skills focus?
- Should groups be run with both genders together or gender specific?
- What theory-based programs are there?
- How many kids should be in a group?
- What do we know about appropriate age range?
- With staff and faculty, will one shot per year help staff recognize TDV?
Back to Top
Community and School-Based Prevention and Intervention Programs
Topic Introduction I: Range of Programs/Issues in Programming
Marge Kleinsmith led the discussion by emphasizing the importance of focusing on mutual violence. Ms. Kleinsmith pointed out
the need to look at links among bullying, harassments, and sexual assault. Anecdotally, she sees victims of bullying ending
up involved in sexual assault at the extreme point of the continuum. This provides an opportunity for school-based interventions.
It is recommended that we begin discussing sexual harassment in sixth grade. Youth know what to say, but do not know what
this looks like. Use role-play, scenarios, and discussions to show what it looks like. It is important to link to community
agencies because educators are not necessarily skilled in these areas. Often they can offer followup services, such as counseling,
legal advice, and so on.
Ms. Kleinsmith referenced her training of school-based officers to recognize teen relationship violence. Probation officers
are also trying to identify youth for intervention programs. A challenge in California is that teen relationship violence
is not mentioned in health standards for California schools. Teachers take a 2-day health education course for teacher credentialing.
There is not a required health education course for students in middle and high school because there is not enough room in
the school day for lengthy programs. There is also competition between drug and alcohol prevention programs and sex education
programs. Ms. Kleinsmith further pointed out the challenge with existing funding. State funding is for specific health and
social issues and does not allow for coordinated programming for multiple risk behaviors. Nor does the funding allow for the
coordination of research funding and program planning. Ms. Kleinsmith has looked at sex education programs in Europe, noting
that Americans have their own issues around sex.
Back to Top
Topic Introduction II: Evaluation and Effectiveness of Programs
Nan Stein began her presentation by remarking that not only is health education gone from the schools, but current "No Child
Left Behind" mandates make it difficult to get a discussion on relationship violence included in the curriculum. Ms. Stein
believes there is escalating relationship violence. It is hard to locate this problem (i.e., provide evidence) because surveys
do not ask the questions the right way: This is like trying to locate a secret problem.
More States are passing legislation to allow teens to apply for protection orders; 18 States have laws about temporary restraining
orders for teens who do not live together. We need to have school-based restraining orders. Such an order could cover routes
around school buildings, class schedules, and so on. This would only work if guidance counselors and administrators enforce
Evaluations reveal the ineffectiveness of many programs. Ms. Stein talked about the Bullyproof curriculum she wrote for fourth-
and fifth-graders. CDC provided funding for the evaluation of the Expect Respect Program, which used the Bullyproof curriculum
with fifth-graders. In her opinion, "this is a pernicious problem that is very tenacious." Some 83 percent of girls and 75
percent of boys say they are experiencing dating violence. When youth speak up about harassment (the participant cited deposition
reports of physical assault of girls by boys), we learn that schools may be the training ground for teen dating violence,
but we do not have studies that test this theory. We need to read civil lawsuits for insight. Australian data indicate there
is a lot of sexual assault in their schools, although there is extensive training about bullying. [The participants read a
vignette of a teen raped by three boys during a school day.]
Ms. Stein concluded her comments by discussing an ongoing NIJ-funded study in schools that focuses on sexual harassment. Schools
in this study are responsive to sexual harassment language.
Back to Top
Open Discussion/Research Questions and Programmatic Needs Identified
Participant comment: In Santa Clara County, English teachers use literature as a learning tool for youth to identify domestic
violence scenes to raise students' awareness. How would one measure effectiveness at the point of intervention?
Participant comment: There is a need for additional funding to support long-term partnerships. This is of particular importance
for designing interventions that have nontraditional indicators of success. There has been some dialogue about this in the
prevention field. This needs to be recognized at the funding level.
Participant comment: What resonated for me throughout Rae's remarks is a reframing that focuses on resilience. Just because
a family looks a certain way—antecedent factors—does not mean a child will turn out a certain way. The other piece is this
normative sense that kids band together, have a code of silence, and no one knows where the resources are to speak up about
dating violence. No one wants to be a "tattletale."
Participant comment: There are some research gaps. Domestic violence intervention programs that have been evaluated have all
been school based. We need to consider evaluating others outside of school, for example, family based or neighborhood based.
CDC has provided funding to conduct a family-based randomized trial study. For this study, the intervention is mailed and
telephone conversations are held with parents. The need for dissemination research was posed by referencing a participant's
program in Toronto that has shown effective results. There is a need to find out how to shed light on these types of interventions.
Participant comment: There is the need to have consequences for police officers for not reporting dating violence. Law enforcement
is different: there must be some consequence in their regulations or reporting won't be done.
Participant comment: Mandatory reporting of dating violence may not be the answer. This could make matters worse. There needs
to be discussion about what the protocol is for responding early to dating violence and not treating it like child abuse.
This is one of the greatest fears expressed by clients.
Participant comment: Training would have to be mandated by school officials. If someone doesn't know the ins and outs of dating
violence, then it is up to the individual to get the training. Lawsuits may be the way to get the attention of administrators
in school districts. Another way is a mandate by the Department of Education that requires learning about dating violence
and then consequences.
Participant comment: If schools are mandated to teach dating violence as part of the curriculum from the beginning, then it's
easy and without consequence to link with community resources and refer youth to these services (school doesn't need to fix
Participant comment: Mandating reporting is problematic. As a service provider, I often have to speak to 13- or 14-year-olds
about sexual activity that may require reporting. As far as evaluation goes, an important issue is gender separation in intervention
(males with males, females with females). We need to see research to validate this approach.
Participant comment: Are there any prevention strategies that cross topic areas (e.g., substance abuse) so youth are given
skills? Consider the length of a program to increase impact. What kind of one-shot intervention is available? What can be
done in that one 50-minute period? Is there value in raising awareness? What is the research on this?
Participant comment: The following are keys to obtaining funding for teen dating violence programs: (1) Start the evaluation
when you start the program. Call local university for social science researcher support. (2) Write to State legislatures asking
for 20 percent set-aside for evaluation. (3) Contact a land grant institution and ask that they reappropriate money to go
toward evaluation. (4) Ask sports teams to direct $1 of every ticket toward programs for children.
Participant comment: You need one visible ally as well as dissemination implementation research. Shorten those interventions
that are shown to work. Select out core elements. Don't waste evaluation efforts on those things that don't work (e.g., one-shot
deal in an assembly hall).
Participant comment: Focus on risk and protective factors because there are some good answers available. For example, substance
abuse interventions can inform current discussion. Another example is the Ontario curriculum, which is 21 hours of education
on healthy relationships for ninth-graders. The paradox of preventions is if there is one horrible incident then everything
is scrutinized. The challenge is to reduce harm.
Participant comment: When looking at community-based funding, opportunities tend to be made to law enforcement agencies. They
don't integrate community-based agencies. They (community-based organizations) will be asked after the fact to fix the problem
even though they were excluded to begin with. There needs to be an examination of policy implementation to shift behaviors.
We don't know what is working well at the community-based level. We need to look at community-based responses that address
community issues. There are multiple ways to access youth and people who work with youth who are not mainstream. There is
a lot of good work happening but it may not be well documented. Organic interventions that are raised out of the community
can be valuable. [The participant commented on community-based organizations' weariness about evaluations.] They don't know
how to have a conversation with institutions about research and evaluation.
Participant comment: Are attendees aware of media campaigns that may influence culture?
Participant comment: Are there good support group or quasi-support group models for survivors of teen violence?
Participant comment: Regarding structure of groups, there is no real research on the number of sessions and the spacing, how
much time should be spent on didactic approach versus discussion, how much time should be spent on role-plays and experiential
activities. There is not enough research on whether or not theory-based programs are more effective. We need to know. Regarding
gender-based groups, we don't know what works. Nor do we know the best age range of groups or number of youth to groups.
Participant comment: We need to take a look at effectiveness and raising staff awareness post one-stop sessions. Look at sexual
harassment training as a model and generalize to teen dating violence.
Participant comment: In thinking about interventions, it is important to prioritize the problem: keeping youth safe and stopping
abuse. Engaging an adolescent is important (e.g., Safe Dates). We also need to go outside the schools. We're still not clear
on what works with batterers.
Back to Top
Justice System Responses to Teen Dating Violence
Topic Introduction I: Range of Responses
Judge Cindy Lederman provided a brief introduction about the range of justice system responses. Judge Lederman explained that
not very many of these cases make it to court. Victims in these types of cases rarely come to the authorities; mostly they
tell their friends. Then, when cases are referred, they are rarely identified as TDV. What is this in legal terms? Violence
involving a third person in the relationship is what they see more often in court, like violence between former and new romantic
partners. Abuse is often seen in cases where there is a baby, where the father is responsible for paying child support.
What typically occurs is cases are dropped. The options within the justice system are stay-away orders, probation, and counseling
or help to victims and offenders. What counseling can be given to defendants? Courts do not have the power to order victims
into counseling. One problem is that juveniles are referred to adult batterer programs, which is not effective. Another problem
is that in some States, like Missouri and Wisconsin, youth don't have standing to request civil protection orders, while in
other States, like New Hampshire, minors can file for a civil protection order.
There is a difference between those who come in voluntarily and those who do not identify themselves as victims. For many
people we see, domestic violence is not their main concern. We have to figure out how to help youth when they come in through
various doors of the system, through the child protection/child welfare system. Delinquent girls are often victims of teen
dating violence and addressing teen dating violence could be part of interventions and treatments for delinquent girls. The
justice system tends to have a one-size-fits-all approach, and this is such a complex issue. We need to ask questions to identify
teens that are victims of dating violence and then know what to do once we identify them.
Back to Top
Topic Introduction II: Evaluation/Effectiveness of Responses
Dr. Inger Sagatun-Edwards provided a brief introduction about evaluations of justice system responses. Santa Clara was the
first court with a specialized domestic violence court for teens. Dr. Sagatun-Edwards is involved in the evaluation of the
Santa Clara, San Francisco, and Contra Costa (control) specialized courts for juvenile domestic and family violence. She notes
that it is difficult to gain access as a researcher. There are logistical difficulties in accessing court records. Research
creates more work for court clerks, probation officers are fearful that you are looking to see how they are doing. With regard
to the issue of research design, evaluation planning should begin prior to program implementation. Trying to impose an experimental
design on a court is very difficult. If you can get a judge to agree to random assignment, then the defense bar may object.
The Santa Clara and San Francisco specialized court programs offer teen batterer programs, parenting classes, frequent court
reviews, victim services, and intensive probation with specially trained probation officers. The intervention is tailored
to the needs of the individuals involved. The comparison court is in Contra Costa, where there is no specialized court.
Some of the challenges in this particular study involve measurement issues, such as what was treatment dosage, and how do
you classify closed cases (some are closed when youth age out of the system, even though they have not completed the services
required at disposition)? Dealing with confidentiality concerns and making comparisons across jurisdictions are also challenging
because the intervention was implemented differently in Santa Clara and San Francisco. In Santa Clara, all cases were referred
to the specialized unit. This raises the possibility of net widening, which has to be balanced against the goals of keeping
victims safe and holding people accountable.
Back to Top
Open Discussion/Research Questions and Programmatic Needs Identified
Participant comment: We had a juvenile program that started 8 years ago and we took a zero tolerance policy. Victim protection
is the biggest concern. We make an arrest and put the juvenile in the detention center. The school resource officers help
write the protection order. The question is, how do you involve the parents, especially when they are part of problem because
they don't think their kid has done anything wrong?
Participant comment: Courts in California can mandate counseling of offender parents. This is paid for by the county. The
challenge is funding (it is a 26-week program).
Participant comment: What we need to know is more about process-based prosecution. How do you keep victims safe and prove
your case? Why aren't victims reporting? When they do, what will keep them safe? Should the juvenile justice response be different
than the adult response? Why?
Participant comment: A death review team for all victims of domestic violence reveals that the highest rates are occurring
in the Asian community. Almost all female homicide victims started their relationship with their murderer when they were teenagers.
The Moderator asked for alternatives to criminalization of teen dating violence.
Participant comment: When we talk about reporting, it is important to define what we mean. Is it reporting to the police or
reporting to anyone (youth believe they have reported abuse if teacher sees it in the hall)? What are the barriers to reporting?
What are the barriers to disclosure versus official reporting. What sort of help do victims need? Victims' rights are an issue
too. In some States, teens don't have the right to talk to counselors without parental consent. In some cases that isn't practical,
so where would a teen go? Where does one go if there is a history of child abuse or harsh parenting?
Participant comment: In our community, we have a teen relationship violence subcommittee in the domestic violence council.
Victim service and the justice system are linked by the Family Justice Center, so services are all available under one roof.
This may be especially helpful for teens who might not have transportation and may feel uncomfortable traveling from place
to place to report the crime and get services. The domestic violence movement needs to embrace and recognize teen relationship
violence. Shelters are not always taking teen victims. If shelters won't take teens, where do kids go? Mandated reporting
isn't helpful if there is not a good way to respond and keep victims safe.
Participant comment: I'm struck by the profiles and typologies of perpetrators of dating violence. Criminal justice and other
interventions need to be informed by this type of research. We don't know how many different typologies there are for teens.
We need different interventions for different typologies. There was a mental health, substance abuse, and trauma study that
revealed the extent of co-occurring disorders. Many of these women had so many problems that IPV was the least of their worries.
There is a need to look at comorbidity issues, such as substance abuse, histories of sexual abuse, homelessness, poverty,
Participant comment: One solution might be to put more police in schools. The police might not have a place to put teen dating
violence. We need to give it a label and a place to put it, so it doesn't fall in the cracks between school and police.
Participant comment: So far, we've only been talking about TDV in heterosexual relationships. The criminal justice system
likely classifies some same-sex relationship violence as an assault (peer-on-peer offenses) instead of teen dating violence.
It would be helpful if research could look at the way TDV is defined by the criminal justice system.
Participant comment: There is also the problem of conflicting legislation. How do the rights of the perpetrator around compulsion
education butt up against victims' rights to safety? The interpretation of State statutes varies from county to county. Some
counties use child abuse reporting statutes as a tool to address TDV.
Participant comment: In most States, child abuse reporting statutes only deal with primary caretaker or other caretaker roles.
So, TDV would not be addressed in most States under the child abuse reporting statutes.
Participant comment: It isn't clear who needs to make the report. Sometimes police say that the victim needs to make report.
Other times they accept reports from teachers, etc. The child welfare system won't deal with teen dating violence.
Participant comment: Do we screen young men for exposure to family violence?
Participant comment: This screening is done in Santa Clara County. One possible tool is to use "peaceful contact orders" rather
than "restraining orders." It's a compromise that recognizes that some of these teens have children in common and go to the
Participant comment: The existence of the Juvenile Assessment Center has made things better. Now, before a child gets to court
they have had a full assessment. So, the judge is more informed.
Participant comment: How do we decriminalize the problem? The prevailing mantra of schools is zero tolerance. States as diverse
as Vermont and Georgia have Romeo and Juliet laws to decriminalize sex between teens who are 3 or 4 years apart or less. There
are eight States left that don't have these laws. Adults cannot be indifferent. We have to have graduated sanctions in schools.
Participant comment: Parents often want to take out protection orders against the minor offenders but this is not allowed
everywhere. In some jurisdictions, the juvenile's wishes prevail.
Participant comment: What is the effect on TDV victims, given different responses by the criminal justice system? How much
input do first responders have on victim willingness to report future involvement in prosecuting the case?
Back to Top
Overview of Day 1/Day 2 Welcome
Summary of Day 1
Mr. Auchter provided a review of the themes that were discussed on Day 1. He noted that differing definitions of teen dating
violence are problematic. Youth and researchers have different definitions. Perhaps "teen relationship violence" would be
a better term for getting accurate statistics. Some parallels were drawn to the child abuse field. Suggestions for focus groups
were brought up as well. He acknowledged that this is a heterogeneous, complex issue.
The influence of family, individual, developmental, and peer factors were discussed. Harsh parenting was an issue that was
raised several times. Also, teen intent is different in relationship violence. What are the implications? There is a need
for multilevel studies, followup to parent studies, and longitudinal studies. Typologies were mentioned so we can better understand
During the lunch session, Rae Spence courageously shared her experience.
Attendees heard about programs as well as evaluations. Critical players need training, including school resource officers,
teachers, and bus drivers; issues were raised regarding school-based protection orders. Lawsuits were mentioned, perhaps as
an intervention tool. Discussion took place about the problem with mandatory reporting. More funds were mentioned as needed.
Attendees suggested that the structure of programs needs to be examined with regard to age, length, group size, and gender
mix. Finally, the need for cultural and ethnic diversity was mentioned.
In the justice system, a medical model for conducting research is not as doable. Questions were raised about why teen victims
are not reporting. Statute-related items were raised, such as the "Romeo and Juliet" statute and jurisdictional variations
in whether youth have standing in court.
Back to Top
Welcome by J. Robert Flores, Administrator, OJJDP, and Regina Schofield, Assistant Attorney General, OJP
"I have two young children who aren't dating and depending on what is discussed at this meeting, may never date! A zero tolerance
approach has unintended consequences. I hope that you will think about zero tolerance as failure to act by adults.
"At the same time, my children do understand that negative actions have negative consequences. We see a big disconnect between
adults and teens. Sometimes, it doesn't matter what the color of the teen is. We also have resources. The reality is we have
limited resources so careful targeting and looking at the front end is important. One of the biggest challenges is teaching
youth boundaries. In my house we had rules: (1) If it isn't yours, don't touch it. (2) If you want to pinch someone, pinch
yourself. (3) If you want to hit someone, hit yourself. Where are we with regard to boundaries?
"We need to try to figure out if we are doing some things in our culture that are undermining our youth with respect to traditions
of culture. I come from a Hispanic family. I've heard outrageous stereotypes about Hispanic fathers that can bring my blood
to a boil. Not all traditions and cultures are equal in getting us to the behavior we want to see.
"Youth have an ability to sniff out hypocrisy. Lastly, we would like to see ways to evaluate nascent efforts. We don't have
the ability to wait 10, 20, 30 years. We need to get to the best practices. As policymakers and parents, we need tools.
"I would like to thank my staff, Glenn Schmitt and his staff, and Maureen Murphy at the ABA.
"Regina Schofield has been Assistant Attorney General for more than a year. One thing that Regina brings to DOJ is a cross-cultural
approach. She was at HHS (Department of Health and Human Services), Office of the Secretary, and she brings a lot of management
experience from the Postal Service. She is committed to supporting all of the agencies, and she has been a strong encourager
of joint efforts. She is responsible for managing programs and for overseeing all the offices of OJP. She has been the manager
of the AMBER Alert system. The alerts are now on mobile cell phones. To be able to know the whole world is going to look for
your child is a wonderful thing. Regina is responsible for that effort. Please join me in welcoming Regina."
Back to Top
Assistant Attorney General Regina Schofield
"Thanks to Glenn Schmitt and his staff. It is good for me to see some of the faces that were with us at Education. Today and
yesterday we had researchers and practitioners discuss this very important topic. Seeing Wanda Jones brings back lots of memories.
"I come from wanting kids to have a safety network. You have to have a full spectrum for kids so they have alternatives and
that requires all Federal agencies to work together. When you see violence as an adolescent, it's usually because you were
exposed to it in other areas. It is good that you're working on programs so we can evaluate them.
"You can't prevent something you don't understand. It requires coordination with the school system. (We'll have a round table
in September.) Bob mentioned the work we're doing with ABA to raise awareness regarding teen dating violence. During teen
dating violence awareness week, 1,000 kits were distributed, and those kits are designed to help not just teens but also youth
groups and teachers.
"Later this summer a new sexual assault online hotline will be activated, created by the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network
(RAINN). We all know youth may not talk to an adult, but they will go online. Hopefully, 100 percent of youth will go online.
The hotline is staffed with trained volunteers, hopefully RAINN will also staff it with teen volunteers.
"Regarding interventions, both sexes can cause damage to each other. We're looking at evaluating two courts. As we get through
and see what works, then we can put more money into it. We want to make sure it works. In an April meeting there was a young
lady from the PTA [Parent and Teachers Association]: this bridge is necessary. The tendency may be to treat an adolescent
without helping the parent. We want to send the message that this is a real and serious issue facing our youth today. We need
to know more about the risk and protective factors as well as the interventions. We want to make sure we're conducting rigorous
"There are resilient people out there, so we want to ensure rigorous programs to help repair them from the inside out. We
want to make sure everyone—evaluators and administrators—are focused on this. Thank you, we appreciate you coming, and Rae,
thank you. "
Back to Top
Community Coordination Around Teen Dating Violence
Topic Introduction: Interagency Coordination/Collaboration in Addressing Teen Dating Violence
Leah Aldridge thanked NIJ and expressed her appreciation for being able to address this issue. For Ms. Aldridge, interagency
coordination and collaboration means working with policymakers. She acknowledged that community organizations cannot do it
all and do not want to. Cross-sector, cross-discipline training facilitates the norms and climate changes systematically.
If we're all sending the same message, then all the youth who come in contact with us get the same message.
Ms. Aldridge has collaborated with school districts, evaluators, and community leaders. They have looked at policy change
around teen dating violence. It is important to frame the issue properly, policymakers ask: "What's in it for me?" She emphasized
that you have to be able to answer why this is relevant to people. You have to address self-interests. You have to provide
time for cross-training. You want to avoid marginalization in collaboration. Respect what everyone who comes to the table
brings. Are you being population specific (e.g., address gender-based violence with incarcerated girls) or issue specific
(e.g., specific policy to look at one issue)?
Ms. Aldridge pointed out that we should look at programming; this facilitates behavior and change. Practitioners find it is
best to work at it from both ends. Define who sits at the table, take a holistic approach (e.g., causative and relationship).
For example, if you say teen pregnancy is a risk for teen dating violence, rape becomes a risk factor for teen pregnancy.
The more we talk across disciplines, the easier we can come up with solutions to improve the heath of youth. Practitioners
see the connection across all the different issues.
With regard to funding, frame sexual coercion as a risk factor for teen pregnancy. Look at the relevance, for example, why
should schools address the issue of teen violence? Resistance from families to addressing this in school has been couched
as "family views." Understanding this, we've been able to illustrate to schools why it is important to deal with the issue
(i.e., as a liability). Educating schools about teen dating violence guides organizations around making provisions for dealing
with the issue. In California, schools were requiring victims to stay home with an individual learning plan.
There are challenges with interagency collaboration, but the more people are focused and agree on the subject matter, the
more this builds the ground for support.
The moderator posed three questions for participants to consider:
- How can the community more effectively incorporate teen dating violence into their mission?
- What does the research tell us about collaboration and coordination?
- Is collaboration a good idea? What are the possible measures if it is to be evaluated?
Back to Top
Open Discussion/Research Questions and Programmatic Needs Identified
Participant comment: Getting into schools is a process. Schools join you for different reasons, for example, in one school
having a Title IX lawsuit pending helped get the school to participate. You can't assume schools will join you for the same
reason. A school cannot always offer full partnership. It may not be productive to take everything schools offer.
Participant comment: Awardees are expected to collaborate and some submit only a letter. How do we know that collaboration
is real? I'd like to be a smarter grant writer and a smarter collaborator.
Participant comment: Collaboration with Healthy Start has not resulted in receiving any of the money. Regarding gender-specific
interventions in juvenile detention system, a comprehensive program design was created. There was a distribution requirement
built into the language of the request for proposals and grantors can lock in the financial requirements.
Participant comment: Community plans are good opportunities from a school perspective. Schools were contacted after funding
was acquired without any respect for the school's existing work and needs. A lot of times agencies do this, set up their plans
and want to use the school to accomplish their goals; often find multiple agencies in one school, and they don't work together.
It's important for agencies to look at the needs of school districts.
Participant comment: I commend California for doing it before anyone else did. I have never seen this discussed—teen dating
violence in New York. New York City's focus is on seven index crimes and investigating causes of any spike in crime in New
York City schools. It doesn't seem as if New York City sees the link yet. This is scary.
Participant comment: We saw this years ago with domestic violence coordinating councils. They still exist. Don't forget the
Participant comment: Regarding the marginalization of domestic violence and sexual assault issues, one of the ways California
elevated the issue was by attaching it to gang activity and teen pregnancy. With the Attorney General's project, it was tied
to liability issues. We're challenged to see what role law enforcement and the criminal justice system play because it is
an "after the fact" intervention. Prevention work could incorporate what could happen down the line to anticipate this.
Participant comment: The issue of interagency collaboration is critical. How do we make these partnerships real and authentic?
Referenced separate pots of funding in case of human trafficking. The challenge is making the MOU [memorandum of understanding]
come alive. Training plans and draft protocols are reviewed at the Federal level.
Participant comment: Commented further on true collaboration (e.g., Safe Start). Cooperative agreements require more Federal
oversight. Federal officials can play a constructive role in ensuring true collaboration (e.g., Green Book Project). Issues
of collaboration are not easy. Over time, there's a good deal of collaboration; other times there is lack of trust and related
issues can emerge.
Participant comment: I am listening to this conversation as a researcher. There are numerous barriers against collaboration.
There is the issue of rapid technical production while incorporating practitioners' collaborations.
Participant comment: Ask grantees their reasons for collaborating. Don't ask people to submit more paperwork. Propose on-the-ground
review of what is happening with regard to the collaboration. The funder is a partner in the collaboration.
Participant comment: In discussing what teens need, adults also need to learn how to build relationships. National Dating
Violence Resource Center provides training throughout the country (e.g., how schools work and how to approach schools).
Participant comment: The monitoring phase is where the Federal Government can play the best role. Monitoring is not always
feasible. We view the front end to make sure the applicant has all of the paperwork. How can we better build that into the
Participant comment: We should look at collaboration research that has come before. Do we need to focus on "is collaboration
necessary"? We know this is good, and we'll find ways to do this.
Participant comment: Excellent point! Yes, it is necessary. Just as we should decide there is teen violence and go forward.
There are also challenges in collaborating due to confidentiality. Conflicting issues of confidentiality and collaboration
are especially problematic around victims.
Participant comment: The Urban Institute has put something together on effective collaboration and who has to be at the table.
Make sure you have the right people there. Minimize the number of people who have to be there to get best results. Research
has been done on effective collaboration measures—what policies get implemented, whether victims are made safer, changes in
level of violence, and has the collaboration continued.
Participant comment: I'd like to see requirements for small agencies to get involved in some RFPs, for example, agencies that
are known to be doing good grassroots work in the community. It might be defined by amount of annual budget.
Participant comment: I encourage you to review the Urban Institute report. People are not talking about the same thing at
this table. There are differences between collaboration, cooperation, and coordination. With coordination you have goals,
visions, etc., developed together. Sometimes collaborations are not effective. JOD [Judicial Oversight Demonstration initiative]
was a collaboration. It takes a lot to get to the level of collaboration. The Federal Government can understand better what
is appropriate in terms of getting agencies to work together. The proposal writer has to document that it's a genuine partnership.
Recommend sister Federal agencies to adopt more involvement.
Participant comment: Teen dating violence initiative sees another level of collaboration among young people working on this
issue. Recommends people look toward Federal officials as potential collaborators [cited Ms. Aldridge's involvement with Attorney
General in California]. My one-person office evolved to a national project because I kept knocking on doors. I went to Governors'
offices as well as grassroots organizations.
Participant comment: Consider a model for collaborations from the HIV funding arena, which issued a mentoring/mentee partnership
announcement. There were specifically targeted organizations that did good work—various organizations at all levels of society.
The goal was to get someone with experience and [who] has shown growth. It provides evaluation capacity. Eight organizations
have been able to get their feet in the door as a result of this. This effort didn't cost a lot for the Department of Health
and Human Services to do.
Participant comment: Preparing well-thought-out and well-planned projects requires staff development and administrative support,
yet grants tend not to cover this. This support is needed in the grant for more meaningful collaborations.
Marie Martinez (Office for Victims of Crime) encouraged attendees to submit concept papers to OVC.
Back to Top
Mr. Auchter led a general discussion on dissemination.
Moderator: When we have findings we think are important, what is the best way for us to get them to you?
Participant comment: Dissemination to State Associations of Prosecutors would be a good start.
Participant comment: Other ideas for dissemination would be to target DV practitioners by using resources such as www.preventchildabuse.com.
Participant comment: NIJ should try to participate in more research tracks at conferences for practitioners. NIJ should also
participate in more conferences at the State level and disseminate more information at a more grassroots level. NIJ research
summaries would be better than individual reports given that people have limited time to read full reports.
Participant comment: NIJ could disseminate information regarding best practice to www.whatworks.ed.gov, a "what works" clearinghouse.
Participant comment: Let me ask who is NIJ trying to disseminate to? Research and practice, practice with research, disseminating
results when something fails? What is NIJ's experience with integrating research into practice? What is the goal of dissemination?
Participant comment: We look at research as do others. A lot of times we pick up research and place it in proposals. In a
proposal we might discuss growth in program correlations between X and Y.
Participant comment: It is tough to find current credible research done by a credible agency or DOJ. It seems we get old results
in new formats. What is new, what is different?
Participant comment: Prosecutors don't reach out but APRI [American Prosecutors Research Institute] reaches out and incorporates
new research in their trainings. They may be a way to disseminate NIJ findings.
Participant comment: In the past, trainings have been developed but not disseminated. Will this change? As an example, results
would perhaps depend on the Department of Education recognizing that CDC research can move money from one agency and be used
to purchase programs from others. Everybody likes the project Expect Respect, so how could it be disseminated?
Participant comment: Is there any cross-agency funding mechanism that addresses dissemination, or is everyone, waiting until
there is a common set of metrics to address this issue? For example, the First Lady's initiative appears to be having a significant
effect and appears to be widely disseminated.
Participant comment: There are best-practice programs. Safe Schools America has promising programs. The idea was that if you
got funding, you had to use the program.
Participant comment: My district thought they had to select from the approved list.
Participant comment: I would challenge that thought.
Participant comment: We have to be careful of what's on the Web. A lot of information that people trust is outdated information.
You can't believe what's on the Web, there is no standard.
Participant comment: I think the answer for dissemination is practice with research. Others need to hear messages including:
- Parents (PTA, Dear Colleague letter to parents)
- Teachers (Teachers' Union, Educator's Guide to Controlling Sexual Harassment)
- School counselors
- School resource officers
Back to Top
Wrapup and Recommendations
Dr. Vangie Foshee provided summary comments of the workshop from a researcher perspective:
Theme 1: It is important to acknowledge the full spectrum of teen dating violence and its heterogeneity in our research. We must recognize that our knowledge of the spectrum influences the way we measure teen dating abuse. The etiology of teen
dating abuse likely varies by type and context. Thus, different intervention approaches will be needed for different groups,
including the juvenile justice system. Responses will need to vary by type (with possibly more criminalization at one end
but that was controversial). I didn't hear that we should limit our research efforts to studying any one type, but rather
people seemed to endorse studying the full spectrum.
Theme 2: We must recognize that teen dating abuse is a complex issue; our research needs to acknowledge that factor. We must examine risk and protective factors at multiple levels including biological, intrapersonal, interpersonal, peers,
family, community, policy, school, media, and legal system and the interactions among these different levels of influence.
Likewise, our evaluation research needs to be focused on programs at all levels. I didn't hear from the group that our programs
should be targeted at one particular level but had to be done at all levels.
Theme 3: There seems to be agreement that teen dating abuse prevention programs need to begin at ages younger than adolescence. We need to establish an empirical base to determine what types of behaviors relate to teen dating violence. For example,
bullying, sexual harassment, aggression against peers when young children, etc., predict teen dating violence. Evaluation
research must be used to find out if programs delivered at earlier ages work to target changes in those behaviors generalizable
to preventing teen dating violence.
Theme 4: We need to consider the developmental contexts of adolescence in our research. We need to work on the measurement of teen dating violence. We need to use the correct words and anchor questions to real
adolescent situations and consider gender identity fluidity. We also need to focus on developmental progressions, possibly
developing different measurement tools. There seems to be interest in studying the progression from play fighting to abuse,
from peer aggression, sexual harassment, bullying, and dating abuse. How normalized are these experiences across adolescence?
Gender identity, proving masculinity, and homosexuality are issues that should also be considered. There was recognition that
developmental research will be important for informing developmentally appropriate intervention.
Theme 5: We need to acknowledge that there are problems with using research and service practice experiences with adult domestic
violence victims and applying those experiences to teens. This issue came up when we talked about measurement, examining etiology, developing interventions, and especially when we
talked about the juvenile justice system response. Mixing with the adult approach may push or move the focus of teen dating
abuse to fall between the cracks. This brings us back to Theme 4, the need for research efforts that are more developmentally
Theme 6: We need to do more research to unpack interventions and identify active ingredients. What works? We do broad brushstroke interventions. What components of self-concept are affected? How many sessions do we need to have,
spread over how much time? Should we have interventions in groups? Should we have discussions or instructive interventions?
Should interventions include homework? Should videos be used? Cisco Garcia mentioned gender composition of groups. What specific
skills need to be taught to young men and what approach should be used to teach them?
Theme 7: We need to examine the role of gender in dating abuse. We need to know more about how gender influences measurement. How etiology differs by gender. Effectiveness of interventions
may vary by gender. Gender-specific interventions may be very important.
Theme 8: We need more research on the overlap in risky behaviors among high-risk groups. There is so much overlap in problem behaviors, and teens today are going through so much, it's difficult to get them to become
engaged in any research or program related to dating abuse. Ms. Aldridge's and Mr. Garcia's idea of Maslow's Hierarchy of
Needs is important: Specifically, it mentions the fact that it is difficult to focus on dating violence when teens are facing
significant challenges in other areas of their lives such as housing, food, and basic safety. The importance of starting where
their needs are before we can make progress on dating abuse prevention was noted.
Theme 9: We must acknowledge that there is likely a lot that can be learned from the long and rich history of prevention science
in other areas such as substance use, teen pregnancy, and youth aggression. We must focus on prevention once we learn how risk factors co-relate and the contextual factors that make a difference.
Mr. Garcia provided summary comments of the workshop from a practitioner perspective:
We need to address the basic needs of our populations. If they cannot eat and have nowhere to sleep, how will they be able
to focus on changing behaviors and preventing dating abuse? Research and evaluation must guide what we do. Practitioners need
to learn what works from the research community. I was initially afraid of evaluation and research, but I've learned that
evaluation is important. Just do not do the kind of surveys where it is very obvious what the answer should be. Researchers
need to find ways to work the surveys to reach kids. Kids are savvy about evaluations. They need to trust that questionnaires
are true to them. They need to trust that surveys are being done to understand and address problems, and that is why personal
questions are asked. They also need to understand that the answers are confidential. We have to work with men and adolescents
as allies to end teen abuse to do this work. We need to reinforce the concept that masculinity and goodness go together and
that bullying is a precursor to teen dating violence and intimate partner violence. We need to understand what drives bullying.
We need to understand and break up unrequited interests. This is something else. Who is directing this research is also important.
Also, what does research mean to families and tell me how do I, as a practitioner, translate this to families I work with?
Back to Top
Angela Moore Parmley of NIJ thanked the group for their time and energy. In the years to come, you can each say you made a
difference. So what happens next? The notes from the meeting will be assembled and e-mailed to you so you can check to make
sure your comments are accurately recorded. A Federal partners meeting will follow soon, so we can follow through on the suggestions
and recommendations made here.
Key Research Questions Identified by Participants on Notecards
- Better scanning and documentation of what is happening programmatically in the field.
- Evaluate existing programs, not necessarily create or develop their own programs.
- Need to define types of teen relationship violence that are more reflective of youths' experience.
- What are the influences that promote early behavior, i.e., bullying, early sexual practices, and is it a precursor to DV?
- What should an effective response to teen dating violence look like? Should it be the same as the response to domestic violence?
- What are impacts of differential policies (e.g., zero tolerance) on the behavior and the girls and boys involved?
- What are the racial and ethnic patterns of teen relationship violence? Do not back away from the race or cultural issue.
- Utilize the heterogeneity of dating abuse in dating abuse measures, etiological research, and intervention research.
- Look at the effectiveness of media and awareness campaigns, particularly teen-friendly media, to change community awareness,
attitudes, and behaviors.
- Descriptive studies or typologies.
- What are the most efficient and effective interventions and prevention methods? How do we make the most informed use of limited
resources to address teen dating violence issues?
- What are the predictors of dating violence, as distinguished from correlates of dating violence? Longitudinal research is
important to answer this question. How do predictors vary in various populations? How do predictors of various levels inform
- Can lengthy programs be shortened with positive results?
- What works for teen violence that follows the traditional DV power-and-control model versus the "mutual violence" we are seeing?
- What is the connection between teasing, bullying, harassment, and TDV? Is it a continuum, with teasing being a predictor of
abusive intimate partnerships, or are they distinct and unrelated behaviors?
- Are there any links from bullying and harassment to sexual violence?
- In studying the precursors to teen dating violence, investigate how these unhealthy and violent behaviors become normalized,
tolerated, and permitted. Do longitudinal study with focus groups of teens, parents, and school staff.
- Program evaluation of existing interventions: What works? In what setting? With what population?
- Does prevention education in early middle school reduce TDV?
- Conduct longitudinal studies on promising education-based and prevention programs.
- Take a bigger look at the intervention route and the research on which programs work and are the most effective.
- What are the minimum and necessary key skills to teach, model, and reinforce during early childhood through young adulthood
(i.e., developmentally appropriate skills) to minimize perpetration and victimization?
- Which, if any, juvenile court interventions work? For which types of teen dating violence is a specialized juvenile court
intervention effective? For which is it not? This will address the whole issue of whether "criminalization" or "delinquentization"
- What is the incidence of TDV, by State and nationally (broken down by physical, emotional, sexual, monetary, psychological,
and boys vs. girls)?
- How does TDV relate to DV as an adult for victims and offenders? Recidivism in TDV.
- Consider controlled evaluation of school-based prevention programs over time.
- Develop a more comprehensive understanding of the development of relationship violence. This would involve longitudinal research
following preteens up into adolescence, and needs to focus on variables that can be intervened upon.
- Conduct longitudinal research examining trajectories of dating violence. When does dating violence turn into domestic violence?
- Examine possible typologies of dating violence.
- One of the top research issues is the need for a better understanding of risk and protective factors via multilevel studies.
- One important aspect is adequate evaluation of the risk and protective factors via a dedicated survey that adequately evaluates
both the multilevel contributors, but also the motives, meanings, and reasons for girls and boys to commit teen dating violence.
This controversy is causing major backsliding with respect to the progress we've made in decreasing violence against women.
- Although research seems clear about correlations between dating violence and teen sexual violence and prior training/victimization,
harsh parenting, and child abuse for victims and abusers in teen dating violence, there is an appalling lack of early intervention
(psychoeducation counseling and advocacy) for children of all ages. We need studies to explore children's access (both legal
and practical) to such counseling and advocacy prior to experience with teen interpersonal violence and certainly afterward.
We need a report on the landscape of children's advocacy and followup evaluation of the identified services. What services
exist? Who provides them and how are they accessed? How are consent and confidentiality issues handled? This research would
provide critical insight for advocacy, policy exchange, funding programs design, etc.
Key Programmatic Issues Identified by Participants on Note Cards
- Funding for practitioners.
- Capacity building of practitioners around research/evaluation.
- Increasing the number and skill of men doing relationship antiviolence work with teens.
- How to implement a comprehensive health curriculum in all public schools. There is no other effective way to educate our children
by trained educators.
- Practitioners need to be trained about teen dating violence, especially on how to prevent and respond to it.
- Which programs or legislation work to reduce teen relationship violence?
- Work with our public school systems so the systems are in place for responding to dating abuse.
- Widespread awareness of programs and responses available to support victims and survivors of teen relationship violence. The
issue still seems to be at the point that parents and teens don't name the problem.
- Effective prevention efforts.
- Increased coordination of Federal agency efforts.
- What is the transferability of curricula and programs across settings and across populations?
- Include full range of violence prevention, including bullying, harassment, intimate partner violence, and sexual assault.
Support required health education for all students so there are opportunities where violence prevention education can take
- What research gaps, if any, exist as barriers to achieving sufficient Federal support for TDV prevention?
- Most important if we want to end domestic violence or teen dating violence, we must work with men as allies, not offenders.
- Help teens heal from the violence in their lives and the cultural damage done to them.
- Examine how to interrupt the precursors to teen dating through various interventions and treatments. To do this, conduct random
assignment, with some treatments led by school staff and others led by outside agency staff (grassroots groups). Treatment
must be flexible and meet with local school approval (involvement with training). Do followup, at various intervals, and hold
focus groups with kids, staff, and parents.
- We need a model legal definition that incorporates the reality of the behavior and the time of incident with relation to relationship
and persons involved.
- How should courts sentence? What therapeutic intervention is effective? How should courts incorporate those interventions?
- Train school faculty, staff, law enforcement, and courts about recognizing, responding, and referring to TDV through training
sessions, not Web sites or lists, and require developmentally appropriate violence prevention education at all levels of education.
- Train faculty and staff at schools to recognize and know how to respond to relationship violence when they see it or other
indications that it may be occurring (e.g., the ABA's warning signs). "Responding" could include direct intervention or simply
knowing who in the school to report the matter to. Include school resource officers in this.
- Broaden the use of teen dating violence toolkits and programs already in use in preventing teen dating violence.
- Turn research into practice and policy. This model is working on the health side to cut the translation time from 17 years
(data shows this) to less than 5. The common perception is that it takes 10 years but serious studies have revealed 17 years.
Invest, evaluate, replicate, and sustain cost savings through better outcomes.
- Provide funding to support and study different models of juvenile justice court intervention in collaboration with other agencies,
such as probation, social work, victim advocacy groups, and so on.
- TDV is a national problem and so needs a national voice. The National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Week is giving us a great
window to address it nationally and with fervor. DOJ should be the coordinator of that and its national voice.
- How to get the school districts to buy into mandatory training in the school curriculum.
- Integration of dating violence programs into existing school curricula perhaps along with substance use and sexual health
- Evaluate well-thought-out programs for dating and relationship violence and develop innovative methods for evaluating programs.
- There are so few programs that have demonstrated effectiveness. The priority might then be to take the ones demonstrated effective
(e.g., Safe Dates) and implement in the schools and evaluate further.
- Figure out a way to show schools that they cannot ignore the issue of teen dating violence because of its impact on academics
(e.g., reading, writing).
Back to Top
Date Created: November 28, 2007