Group-Based Dating Violence Interventions for High-Risk Youth

Adolescents who are maltreated and become involved in the child welfare system are at risk for being revictimized by romantic partners.[1] To better understand how to prevent revictimization among this high-risk group, NIJ funded a study to evaluate the effectiveness of two prevention curriculums. The study focused on girls because they sometimes face more serious consequences of dating violence (e.g., injuries, pregnancy) than boys do.[2],[3]

Participants included 176 adolescent girls involved in child welfare services. The girls were assigned randomly to receive one of two curriculums:

  • A group of 67 girls received a social learning/feminist curriculum designed to help girls develop healthy relational skills, understand power dynamics and understand societal pressures that can lead to violence.
  • A group of 67 girls participated in a risk detection/executive functioning curriculum designed to improve their ability to recognize and maintain attention to environmental danger cues, recognize different emotions and know how to respond in risky relational situations.

A third group of 42 girls were enrolled in the study but did not participate in a curriculum intervention.

Overall, the girls reported positive experiences about participating in a curriculum. The study found no significant differences in revictimization rates for girls who completed the social learning/feminist curriculum compared with those who completed the risk detection/executive functioning curriculum. In addition, compared with girls who did not participate in a curriculum, the odds of not being revictimized (sexually or physically) were two to five times greater for girls who received the risk detection/executive functioning or social learning curriculum.

The study suggests that high-risk girls can successfully participate in and benefit from relational programming.

Read an abstract and access the final report Preventing Revictimization in Teen Dating Relationships.


[note 1] Foshee, Vangie A., Heath Luz McNaughton Reyes, Susan T. Ennett, Jessica D. Cance, Karl E. Bauman, and J. Michael Bowling, "Assessing the Effects of Families for Safe Dates, a Family-Based Teen Dating Abuse Prevention Program," Journal of Adolescent Health 51 (March 2012): 349-356.

[note 2] Coker, Ann L., Robert E. McKeown, Maureen Sanderson, Keith E. Davis, Robert F. Valois, and E. Scott Huebner, "Severe Dating Violence and Quality of Life Among South Carolina High School Students," American Journal of Preventative Medicine 19 (November 2000): 220-227.

[note 3] Silverman, Jay G., Anita Raj, Lorelei A. Mucci, and Jeanne E. Hathaway, "Dating Violence Against Adolescent Girls and Associated Substance Use, Unhealthy Weight Control, Sexual Risk Behavior, Pregnancy, and Suicidality," Journal of the American Medical Association 286 (August 2001): 572-579.

Date Created: February 13, 2014