Description: Start Strong: Building Healthy Teen Relationships (Start Strong) worked to prevent teen dating violence by teaching 11- to 14-year-olds about healthy relationships, engaging the people who influence them, using social marketing to deliver relevant messages, and changing school policies. Eleven communities developed and implemented Start Strong’s comprehensive model. The program’s sites were, Atlanta; Austin, Texas; Boston; Bridgeport, Conn.; Bronx, N.Y.; Idaho; Indianapolis; Los Angeles; Oakland, Calif.; Rhode Island; and Wichita, Kan.
Each site used a community-based model, with schools as a focal point and teens informing and leading programs to build healthy relationships. The model’s four components were:
Educate youth (in and out of school)
RWJF implemented this $18.5 million national program in collaboration with Blue Shield of California Foundation, which funded the Los Angeles site and contributed to the evaluation and convenings. Futures without Violence managed the program. RTI conducted an evaluation of outcomes and policy change.
Futures without Violence reported that Start Strong raised awareness of teen dating violence and moved the field more toward prevention, with a focus on programs for middle school-aged youth. The program:
Implemented curricula about teen dating violence in middle schools, reaching more than 23,000 students, and bolstered this with education through clubs, community groups, and other extracurricular activities
Engaged parents, older teens, health care providers, and others to help 11- to 14-year-olds build healthy relationship skills
Spread messages and knowledge about healthy relationships through online and offline social marketing
Developed model school and school district policies designed to prevent teen dating violence and abuse