The goal of the proposed research is to reduce dating violence and sexual harassment (DV/H) among middle school students through the provision and rigorous scientific evaluation of developmentally appropriate DV/H curricula. In a sample of 7,200 middle school students in 240 randomly selected classrooms from 50 New York City (NYC) public schools, the research team will test the effectiveness of grade-differentiated DV/H prevention curricula, conducting a baseline and five follow-up surveys to assess short-term environmental impact; intermediate changes in knowledge, norms, attitudes, and intentions; and long term impact on rates of DV/H. These data will be supplemented with qualitative data from staff and student focus groups and key informant interviews with school administrators. The gender-balanced sample of 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students represents NYC middle schools, the racial makeup of which is 37% Hispanic, 35% black, 14% Asian, and 14% white.
Classrooms will be randomly assigned to one of four treatment conditions, with a fifth group of ten classrooms serving as the control group. Through a randomized control trial (RCT) over the course of nearly two years, the researchers will investigate (1) whether and how much of a difference it makes when all three middle school grades receive a set of DV/H interventions compared to when only two grades or only one grade receives it (a question of environmental saturation); and (2) the impact of multiple doses of grade-differentiated curricula, following 6th graders through the 8th grade with a complete three-year intervention program compared to 6th graders who receive it only once. The effects of new grade-differentiated curricula compared to generalized curricula will be examined through a quasi-experimental study design that uses the results of a current (2008-10) NIJ-funded project.
Individual-level descriptives will inform hierarchical linear models reflecting the nested design of students in classrooms in schools. Qualitative data will be analyzed using an inductive process, allowing patterns and themes to emerge.