PURPOSE: We examine whether the Shifting Boundaries (SB) intervention, a primary intervention to prevent youth dating violence and sexual harassment (DV/H), is differentially effective for girls compared with boys or for youth with a history of DV/H experiences.
METHODS: We randomly assigned SB to 30 public middle schools in New York City, enrolling 117 sixth and seventh grade classes to receive a classroom, building, combined, or neither intervention. The SB classroom intervention included six sessions emphasizing the laws/consequences of DV/H, establishing boundaries and safe relationships. The SB schoolwide/building intervention included the use of school-based restraining orders, greater faculty/security presence in unsafe "hot spots" mapped by students, and posters to increase DV/H awareness and reporting. Student surveys were implemented at baseline, immediately after intervention, and 6 months after intervention.
RESULTS: At 6 months after intervention, the SB building-level intervention was associated with significant reductions in the frequency of sexual harassment (SH) perpetration and victimization; the prevalence and frequency of sexual dating violence victimization; and the frequency of total dating violence victimization and perpetration. We also had one anomalous finding that the interventions were associated with an increase in the prevalence of SH victimization. These results were consistent for girls and boys, and those with or without a history of DV/H, with the one exception for those exposed to the SB building condition who had earlier reported perpetrating SH had a significantly lower frequency of perpetrating SH at the follow-up than those without such a history.
CONCLUSIONS: SB can provide effective universal prevention of middle school DV/H experiences, regardless of students' prior exposure histories, and for boys and girls.