Teaching Adolescents about Abusive Dating

Integrating the Safe Dates curriculum into the Essex County, N.J., vocational schools' health education program

Field of Work: Educating teens on what constitutes healthy and abusive dating relationships.

Problem Synopsis: Nationwide, one in four adolescents report verbal, physical, or emotional abuse from a dating partner each year. Some 10 percent report being physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend in the past 12 months.

Synopsis of the Work: The School-Based Youth Services Program incorporated Safe Dates—a course designed to promote healthy teen relationships and prevent dating violence—into the ninth grade health curriculum of four vocational high schools, three of which were in New Jersey cities with high poverty rates and significant levels of community violence. The School-Based Youth Services Program is run by the University Hospital of the Foundation of the University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey.

Key Results:

  • From 2008 to 2011, 1,468 students completed the Safe Dates course.
  • Students who completed the curriculum showed improved awareness of dating abuse and strategies to avoid being either a victim or a perpetrator.

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