In addressing noted research gaps, this study assessed the initial feasibility, acceptability, and efficacy of an online, parent–son intervention (STRONG) aimed at reducing dating violence (DV) among early adolescent males.
Despite broad calls for prevention programs to reduce adolescent dating violence (DV), there is a dearth of programs designed specifically for males. In fact, there are no programs that capitalize on the importance of parents in modeling and influencing the choices their sons make in future romantic relationships. A total of 119 7th- and 8th-grade boys were recruited, with a parent (90 percent mothers), from six urban middle schools in the Providence, RI area. Dyads were randomized to either STRONG or a waitlist comparison group. STRONG targets three primary constructs: relationship health knowledge, emotion regulation, and communication. Families randomized to the waitlist were nearly twice as likely at 3 months (OR = 1.92 [0.43–8.60]) and nearly 7 times as likely at 9 months (OR = 6.76 [0.66–69.59]) to endorse any form of DV perpetration (physical, sexual, verbal/emotional) when compared with STRONG families. STRONG also had positive effects on teens’ attitudes toward dealing with DV, their emotional awareness, and their short-term regulation skills and was associated with increased discussion of critical relationship topics. Pilot outcomes indicate that an online DV prevention program designed to engage early adolescent boys and parents is both acceptable and engaging. Findings show promise for reducing DV behaviors and theory-driven mediators. (publisher abstract modified)