School-based intimate partner violence prevention programs

School-based programs to prevent youth intimate partner violence (IPV), also called teen dating violence, offer education and skill-building activities that address healthy relationships, gender norms, and relationship coercion, and build problem-solving skills. These programs are usually taught in a school setting and follow a structured curriculum (YG-Dating violence). Youth IPV includes physical, sexual, psychological, and emotional violence by a dating partner (CDC-Teen dating violence). Surveys suggest that IPV peaks in the late teens (). In 2015, 12% of dating female high school students and 7% of dating male high school students reported experiencing physical dating violence, and 16% of female and 5% of male students reported experiencing sexual dating violence (CDC MMWR-YRBSS 2016).

Expected Beneficial Outcomes (Rated)

  • Increased knowledge of intimate partner violence

  • Reduced intimate partner violence

Other Potential Beneficial Outcomes

  • Reduced delinquent behavior

  • Increased condom use

Evidence of Effectiveness

There is some evidence that school-based programs to prevent youth intimate partner violence (IPV) increase knowledge about, and improve attitudes toward, teen dating violence (Campbell-De La Rue 2014) and avert dating violence (, ). However, effects vary by program; additional evidence is needed to confirm effects and identify the most successful interventions to reduce dating violence (Campbell-De La Rue 2014, ).

Overall, participants in school-based IPV prevention interventions for middle and high school students demonstrate increases in knowledge about healthy behaviors in couple relationships and greater awareness of appropriate approaches to conflict solution than non-participants (Campbell-De La Rue 2014, Campbell-Fellmeth 2013). Participating students also report less acceptance of dating violence than non-participating peers (Campbell-De La Rue 2014).

The Fourth R program (SAMHSA-NREPP), Safe Dates (YG-Program search, ), and Shifting Boundaries are three school-based youth IPV programs that have been shown to decrease dating violence perpetration and victimization among adolescents (). Fourth R substantially reduces violent delinquency among youth with a history of child maltreatment and also increases participating adolescents’ condom use (SAMHSA-NREPP). The Start Strong program, designed for middle school students, decreases gender stereotypes and acceptance of teen dating violence among participants two years after the intervention (). Overall, programs with longer durations and comprehensive approaches are more effective than shorter programs and programs without comprehensive approaches (, ).

Youth IPV prevention programs may increase teen mothers’ awareness of gender stereotypes and community resources for teen dating violence ().

Impact on Disparities

No impact on disparities likely

Implementation Examples

Safe Dates and Fourth R are two examples of school-based intimate partner prevention programs with curriculum available online. Safe Dates training is offered in several states (Safe Dates) and the Start Strong program is implemented in 11 US cities (Start Strong). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC)’s Dating Matters, a middle school and community-based prevention initiative, has been implemented in four pilot sites (Baltimore, Chicago, Ft. Lauderdale, and Oakland, CA) (CDC-Dating Matters). Coaching Boys into Men (CBIM) is another example of a youth IPV prevention initiative.

Implementation Resources

Safe Dates - Hazelden. Safe dates product - Information.

CPS-Fourth R - Center for Addiction and Mental Health Centre for Prevention Science (CAMH-CPS). The Fourth R: Strategies for healthy youth relationships.

CDC-Teen dating violence - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Teen dating violence.

Citations - Evidence

* Journal subscription may be required for access.

Whitaker 2006* - Whitaker DJ, Morrison S, Lindquist C, et al. A critical review of interventions for the primary prevention of perpetration of partner violence. Aggression and Violent Behavior. 2006;11(2):151-66.

YG-Program search - Youth.gov (YG), Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs (IWGYP). Evidence-based program directories: Program directory search.

SAMHSA-NREPP - SAMHSA's National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP).

O’Leary 2012* - O’Leary KD, Smith-Slep AM. Prevention of partner violence by focusing on behaviors of both young males and females. Prevention Science. 2012;13(4):329–39.

Campbell-De La Rue 2014 - De La Rue L, Joshua P, Dorothy E, Pigott T. School-based interventions to reduce dating and sexual violence: A systematic review. Campbell Systematic Reviews. 2014:7.

Campbell-Fellmeth 2013 - Fellmeth GLT, Nurse J, Heffernan C, Habibula S, Sethi D. Educational and skills-based interventions for preventing relationship and dating violence in adolescents and young adults: A systematic review. Campbell Systematic Reviews. 2013:14.

De Koker 2014* - De Koker P, Mathews C, Zuch M, Bastien S, Mason-Jones AJ. A systematic review of interventions for preventing adolescent intimate partner violence. Journal of Adolescent Health. 2014;54(1):3–13.

Miller 2015* - Miller S, Williams J, Cutbush S, et al. Evaluation of the Start Strong initiative: Preventing teen dating violence and promoting healthy relationships among middle school students. Journal of Adolescent Health. 2015;56(2 Suppl 2):S14–S19.

Herrman 2014* - Herrman JW, Waterhouse JK. A feasibility study to assess the effectiveness of safe dates for teen mothers. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing. 2014;43(6):695–709.

Citations - Implementation Examples

* Journal subscription may be required for access.

Safe Dates - Hazelden. Safe dates product - Information.

Start Strong - Future Without Violence. Start Strong: Building healthy teen relationships (Start Strong).

CDC-Dating Matters - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Dating Matters initiative (Dating Matters).

CBIM - Future Without Violence. Coaching Boys into Men (CBIM).

Date Last Updated

Jan 30, 2017