The report published in the August issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine found that approximately one in 10 to one in five high school–aged teens are hit, slapped or beaten by an individual they are dating each year, according to background information in the article. Wolfe, Director of CAMH’s Centre for Prevention Science, and colleagues conducted from 2001 to 2004 a randomized trial of a 21-lesson curriculum delivered by teachers with special training in the dynamics of dating violence and healthy relationships.Dating violence among adolescents often leads to intimate partner violence in adulthood and also is associated with injuries, unsafe sex, substance use and suicide attempts. The program, known as the “Fourth R: Skills for Youth Relationships,” was taught to 968 students at 10 randomly selected high schools.So, from a primary prevention — or stopping before it starts — standpoint, we want to be communicating healthy relationships messages to adolescents."That you have a right to be safe in your relationship, and if a partner ever makes you feel unsafe or hurts you, that's not okay, and you have a right to leave and seek help." Exner-Cortens' study, recently published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, analyzed a sample of 2,161 American male and female heterosexual youth, interviewing them about dating when they were ages 12 to 18, and then again five and 12 years later.
The effects of the low-cost intervention implemented in some Ontario schools appear stronger in boys.Girls are more likely to report committing less serious forms of IPV, including as a means of self-defense, whereas boys are more likely to report committing more severe acts of IPV, including threats, physical violence and controlling a partner.Other research indicates that boys who have been abused in childhood by a family member are more prone to IPV perpetration, while girls who have been abused in childhood by a family member are prone to lack empathy and self-efficacy; but the risks for the likelihood of IPV perpetration and victimization among adolescents vary and are not well understood.Another 754 students at 10 different schools were assigned to a control group, where similar objectives were targeted but without training or materials.When the adolescents were surveyed two and a half years later—at the end of grade 11—rates of physical dating violence were greater in the control students (9.8 percent) than in the students who participated in the program (7.4 percent).