We randomly assigned the Shifting Boundaries interventions to 30 public middle schools in New York City, enrolling 117 sixth and seventh grade classes (over 2,500 students) to receive a classroom, a building, a combined, or neither intervention. The classroom intervention included a six-session curriculum emphasizing the laws and consequences for perpetrators of dating violence and sexual harassment (DV/H), the social construction of gender roles, and healthy relationships. The building-based intervention included the use of building-based restraining orders, higher levels of faculty/security presence in safe/unsafe “hot spots” mapped by students, and posters to increase DV/H awareness and reporting. Student surveys were implemented at baseline, immediately after the intervention, and 6-months post-intervention. As hypothesized, behaviors improved as a result of the interventions. The building-only and the combined interventions were effective in reducing sexual violence victimization involving either peers or dating partners at 6-months post-intervention. This was mirrored by reductions in sexual violence perpetration by peers in the building-only intervention. While the preponderance of results indicates that the interventions were effective, an anomalous result (increase in sexual harassment victimization reports that was contradicted by lower frequency estimates) did emerge. However, after analysis these anomalous results were deemed to be most likely spurious. The success of the building-only intervention alone is important because it can be implemented with very few extra costs to schools.
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In this report, we use the term dating violence and harassment (DV/H) to represent physical, emotional, or sexual abuse within a dating relationship, the definition that CDC uses for teen dating violence (TDV) (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2010). Where cited studies used the term TDV, we also follow the language of the original research.
Defined for students as, “People about the same age as you. They may be your classmates, kids in your school, neighborhood/community, and are both girls and boys the same age as you. You might or might not know them or think of them as your friends.”
Defined for students as, “People who you are ‘going with,’ ‘dating,’ ‘going steady with,’ or have ‘gone out with,’ ‘dated,’ or ‘gone steady with’ for at least a week. This group also includes anyone who is or was your boyfriend/girlfriend for at least a week.”
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This study (Dating violence prevention programs in public middle schools: A multi-level experimental evaluation) was funded by the National Institute of Justice (Grant # 2008-MU-MU-0010), along with co-funding from the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools, U.S. Department of Education. The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views or the official position of the National Institute of Justice, U.S. Department of Education or any other organization.
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Taylor, B.G., Stein, N.D., Mumford, E.A. et al. Shifting Boundaries: An Experimental Evaluation of a Dating Violence Prevention Program in Middle Schools. Prev Sci 14, 64–76 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11121-012-0293-2