A scientific study on the effectiveness of dating violence prevention programs was conducted in 30 New York City middle schools, involving over 2,500 students. Of these students, 20% identified as having been in an abusive dating relationship. The study, Shifting Boundaries: Final Report on an Experimental Evaluation of a Youth Dating Violence Prevention Program in New York City Middle Schools was funded by the National Institute of Justice and the Office of Safe and Drug-free Schools, US Department of Education.
Six class room sessions of Shifting Boundaries educated randomly-selected students on the laws and consequences of dating abuse, as well as gender roles and healthy relationships. The program included “building-based intervention” which used posters to increase awareness, school-based restraining orders, and greater faculty and security presence in “hot spot” areas. Students involved ranged in age from 10 to 15 years old. The results of the study showed that those students who participated and received both the class room and building-based intervention were more likely to “intend to avoid perpetrating violence immediately after the intervention.” The study also found that the combination of interventions as well as the building-based program itself “reduced sexual harassment (victimization and perpetration) by 26-34% six-months post intervention.” Another significant statistic showed that “the building intervention reduced victimization and perpetration of physical and sexual dating violence by 50% in the six months after the intervention.”
In DASH’s opinion, the overall success of this study demonstrates the need for early intervention programs in schools, particularly with the constant reminders of the building-based intervention.