For Immediate Release: July 12, 2011
Findings from a National Institute of Justice evaluation of Shifting Boundaries: Lessons on Relationships for Students in Middle School, a youth dating violence prevention program in New York City middle schools, indicate that increasing awareness and monitoring of school environments can be effective strategies for reducing dating violence/ harassment (DV/H) among adolescents. This study was the first to use a rigorous scientific methodology with a young population of sixth and seventh graders; most teen dating violence projects look at older students.
The research team—Bruce Taylor, Ph.D., principal research scientist, NORC at the University of Chicago, and Nan D. Stein, Ed.D, senior research scientist, Wellesley Centers for Women at Wellesley College—randomly assigned 30 New York City middle schools to one of four conditions: 1.) a classroom-based intervention, 2.) a building intervention, 3.) both classroom and building interventions, or 4.) a no-treatment control group. Approximately 2,700 students completed surveys administered before the intervention, immediately after, and six months post‐intervention.
The data, collected and analyzed between October 2008 and December 2010, shows that Shifting Boundaries improves DV/H knowledge and intentions and reduces violent behavior compared to the control group which received no interventions. Findings include:
- The combination of the classroom and building interventions increased student knowledge about laws and consequences about dating violence and sexual harassment.
- The students receiving the building intervention were more likely to intend to avoid perpetrating violence (more pro-social behavioral intentions) immediately after the intervention.
- The building intervention alone was associated with more positive intentions to intervene as a bystander (e.g., reporting an incident of violence to a teacher) six months post intervention.
- The combination of the classroom and building interventions and the building intervention alone reduced sexual harassment (victimization and perpetration) by 26-34% six months post follow-up.
- The building intervention reduced victimization and perpetration of physical and sexual dating violence by about 50% up to six months after the intervention.
- The combination of the classroom and building interventions and the building intervention alone led to 32-47% lower peer sexual violence victimization and perpetration up to six months after the intervention.
An overview of the study and more findings are available online.
A copy of the slides presented during the June 2011 National Institute of Justice Annual Research Conference are available online.
A copy of Shifting Boundaries: Lessons on Relationships for Students in Middle School can be found online.
Post-script 10/27/11: Listen online to Stein and Taylor discuss their findings.
About Wellesley Centers for Women
Since 1974, the Wellesley Centers for Women has been a driving force—both behind the scenes and in the spotlight—promoting positive change for women, children, and families. Work at WCW addresses three major areas: the status of women and girls and the advancement of their human rights both in the United States and around the globe; the education, care, and development of children and youth; and the emotional wellbeing of families and individuals. Issues of diversity and equity are central across all the work as are the experiences and perspectives of women from a variety of backgrounds and cultures.