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Teen Study Cover

(2006)

See also our Teens Hurting Teens Study about criminal violence between youth aged 12 to 17


Are you in an abusive relationship?

See the WARNING SIGNS.


Violence in Teen Dating Relationships

Evaluation of a Large Scale Primary Prevention Program


Marlies Sudermann, Ph.D., C.Psych. and Peter Jaffe, Ph.D., C.Psych. (1993)


Violence in adolescent dating relationships is a large-scale problem, and may result in long-term trauma and psychological sequelae for victims. Also, violence in dating relationships may be viewed as a precursor of violence in adult relationships. A recent Canadian study of high school students indicated that fully 24% of female students had become victims of forced intercourse by Grade 12 (Mercer, 1988). A large-scale United States survey of a college population found that 25% of female students had been victims of rape or attempted rape (Koss, Gidycz & Wisniewski, 1987). While there has been less study of verbal and physical abuse in the context of teen dating relationships, experience in previous prevention programs (Jaffe, Sudermann, Reitzel & Killip, 1992) indicated that these are also important issues to address.

This paper reports the results of an evaluation of a primary prevention programme for violence in dating relationships. Data on incidence of verbal, physical and sexual violence in dating relationships was collected. Attitudes, beliefs and behavioural intentions with respect to dating violence and violence in relationships were measured on 1,547 students before and after a large-scale school-based primary prevention programme.

Programme

A half-day intervention designed to address prevention of violence in intimate relationships, particularly dating relationships, was conducted in two London, Ontario, secondary schools. Planning for the programme was coordinated by an administrator and student peer support in each school. Junior students (Grades 9 and 10) attended an auditorium programme on dating violence followed by classroom discussions. Senior students (Grades 11 to OAC) chose two workshops offered by community presenters.

Results

Student Experiences of Dating Violence (Post-Test)

  • Approximately 4 out of 10 female students reported experiencing verbal or emotional abuse (44.8%); 1 out of 7 female students reported experiencing physical abuse (12.4%) and 1 out of 7 reported sexual abuse (14.5%).
  • Of female students who were currently dating, 21% reported experiencing physical abuse in a dating relationship; 23% reported experiencing sexual abuse in a dating relationship, and 57% reported experiencing verbal abuse in a dating relationship.
  • The students reporting the highest incidence of dating violence were females in Grade 9 and 10 involved in steady dating relationships: 1 out of 2 students experienced verbal or emotional abuse (58.9%); 1 out of 3 experienced physical abuse (26.8%); and 1 out of 3 experienced sexual abuse (31.6%).
  • Overall, males reported experiencing less verbal abuse than females experience: 24.1% of males versus 44.8% of females at post-test.

Knowledge About Violence in Intimate Relationships

  • There were positive changes on all knowledge items following the intervention.

Attitudes About Violence in Intimate Relationships

  • There were significant sex differences in items measuring attitudes and beliefs. In general, female students had more appropriate attitudes than male students.
  • After intervention, there were many significant attitude changes in the desired direction. Positive attitude changes were highest amongst the females in Grade 9 and 10 but changes in the desired direction were found in all groups studied.
  • On items related to violence in adult relationships, there was some evidence of a "backlash" or reactance effect, with attitudes moving from more to less appropriate responses.

Attitudes About Forced Intercourse

  • At pre-test, 8% of boys in Grades 9 and 10 believed forced intercourse was okay if the couple had dated a long time. At post-test, the corresponding percentage was 7%.
  • At pre-test, 18% of boys in Grades 9 and 10 believed forced intercourse was okay if "she sexually excited him." At post-test, the corresponding percentage was 14%.
  • A pre-test, 3.5% of girls in Grades 9 and 10 believed forced intercourse was okay of the couple had dated a long time. At post-test, the figure was 2%.
  • At pre-test, 6% of girls in Grades 9 and 10 believed forced intercourse was okay if "she sexually excited him." At post-test, the corresponding percentage was 3%.

Role of Schools in Violence Prevention

  • 88.9% of students agreed or strongly agreed that schools should play a role in increasing awareness of the effects of violence and how to prevent it
  • Students' comments were overwhelmingly favourable with regard to both the content and the topics of the intervention.

References Cited

Jaffe, P., Sudermann, M., Reitzel, D. & Killip, S.M. (1992).
An evaluation of a secondary school primary prevention program n violence in relationships. Violence and Victims, 7: 129-46.
Koss, M.P., Gidycz, C.A. & Wisniewski, N. (1987).
The scope of rape: Incidence and prevalence of sexual aggression and victimization in a national sample of higher education students. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 55: 162-70.
Mercer, S.L. (1987).
Not a Pretty Picture: An Exploratory Study of Violence Against Women in High School Dating Relationships. Toronto: Education Wife Assault.

Also of interest...

cover

Adolescent Relationship Violence: Increasing Understanding to Enhance Intervention (2002)

by Linda Baker, Anna-Lee Straatman, and Cindy Male. A resource funded by Ontario's Ministry of Community, Family and Children's Services. Many student reports some form of violence in their dating relationships, either as a victim or a perpetrator. Yet, the existence and impact of dating violence is often under-recognized and minimized both by young people and the adults who could offer support. This SIGMA booklet includes information on healthy and unhealthy adolescent relationships, the warning signs of dating violence, why it is difficult to leave an abusive relationship, and intervention strategies.


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