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Family-Based Dating Violence Interventions for High-Risk Youth

Date Published
February 12, 2014

Youth exposed to domestic violence are at increased risk to be both a victim and the one committing dating violence.[1]

Yet we currently have no violence intervention protocols for this vulnerable group. To help fill the gap, NIJ funded an effort to adapt the successes of an existing evidence-based program, Families for Safe Dates, so it would be applicable to teens who are exposed to domestic violence.

To adapt Families for Safe Dates for teens exposed to domestic violence, the researcher recruited 28 women (and 35 of their 12- to 15-year-old children) from four counties, either when the women were in court filing a domestic violence protection order or when the women were seeking services through public or community-based programs. To be eligible, women had to have been victims of domestic violence but no longer living with their partners and to have a child 12 to 15 years old.

The researchers adjusted the protocol recruitment strategies, data collection procedures, measures, and program administration, and eliminated the follow-up calls from the health educator. They also determined that the intervention was reaching the high-risk group: teens who had been exposed to an average of seven years of domestic violence and had high rates of dating violence compared with national averages. These teens also had high rates of exposure to bullying, sexual harassment and peer aggression, as both victims and the one committing the violence.

Overall, the mothers and youth reported that they enjoyed the booklets and found them helpful and informative. Given low rates of booklet completion and follow-up, however, the researchers could not decisively determine what effects the booklet had.

The pilot study was instrumental in guiding the development, refinement and implementation of a larger, ongoing efficacy trial of the intervention that is being funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Read the final technical report Dating Abuse Prevention in Teens of Moms with Domestic Violence Protection Orders (pdf, 405 pages).

Date Published: February 12, 2014