U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Building Healthy Teen Relationships: An Evaluation of the Fourth R Curriculum with Middle School Students in the Bronx

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 2014
138 pages

This study examined and applied the Fourth R: Strategies for Healthy Youth Relationships dating violence prevention curriculum in a randomized controlled trial design to tests its effectiveness with a young, diverse, urban population in the Bronx, New York.


National estimates indicate that anywhere from 10-20% of adolescents experience physical dating violence and an even greater number experience verbal or psychological abuse. The Fourth R: Strategies for Healthy Youth Relationships is a dating violence prevention curriculum previously shown to reduce physical dating violence among Canadian ninth-grade students. The authors hypothesized that students who were exposed to the Fourth R would show improvements in the following primary and secondary target attitudes and behaviors: teen dating violence, sexual harassment/assault, peer violence/bullying, sexual activity, drug and alcohol use, perceptions of school safety, acceptance of gender stereotypes and pro-violence beliefs, and pro-social responses to violence. A total of 570 incoming seventh-grade students in ten Bronx middle schools were assigned to class sections, which were then randomly assigned to receive either the Fourth R or a standard seventh-grade curriculum during the 2011-2012 academic year. Surveys were administered to students at three points: prior to program implementation, at the conclusion of the program year, and at the conclusion of the subsequent school year. Overall program results show little impact of the Fourth R curriculum on primary or secondary target behaviors. The program did not generally reduce dating violence, peer violence/bullying, or drug and alcohol use among the experimental sample. Students exposed to the Fourth R were more likely than control students to delay sexual activity; and students who received more of the curriculum experienced even greater delays. Students who received more of the curriculum also perpetrated less bullying and saw greater attitudinal changes than students who received lower dosages of the curriculum. The Fourth R was also found to reduce dating violence among those high-risk students who had already experienced or perpetrated dating violence at baseline. High risk students were especially likely to experience program benefits at follow-up.

Date Published: September 1, 2014