Teens trained to spot drama before it turns dangerous
June 25, 2013 12:27 PM   Subscribe

School violence prevention programs typically focus on risk-reduction by teaching girls not to be victims and boys not to be rapists, with no other roles to play. Even though bystander intervention not a new concept, some schools, advocacy groups and corporations are pushing it with renewed vigor in an effort to deter violence.
The goal is to challenge perceptions of "normal behavior" and make teens aware of the nuanced interactions that create a hostile climate. It could be as simple as diverting a friend's attention when he hollers at a girl on the street, encouraging your sister to talk to her boyfriend instead of secretly checking his texts, sneaking off to call 911 when the popular guys start messing with a girl who's barely conscious.

Assessing the Long-Term Effects of the Safe Dates Program and a Booster in Preventing and Reducing Adolescent Dating Violence Victimization and Perpetration
Objectives. This study determined 4-year postintervention effects of Safe Dates on dating violence, booster effects, and moderators of the program effects.
Methods. We gathered baseline data in 10 schools that were randomly allocated to a treatment condition. We collected follow-up data 1 month after the program and then yearly thereafter for 4 years. Between the 2- and 3-year follow-ups, a randomly selected half of treatment adolescents received a booster.
Results. Compared with controls, adolescents receiving Safe Dates reported significantly less physical, serious physical, and sexual dating violence perpetration and victimization 4 years after the program. The booster did not improve the effectiveness of Safe Dates.
Conclusions. Safe Dates shows promise for preventing dating violence but the booster should not be used.

Neighborhood-Level Factors Associated with Physical Dating Violence Perpetration: Results of a Representative Survey Conducted in Boston, MA
Neighborhood-level characteristics have been found to be associated with different forms of interpersonal violence, but studies of the relationship between these characteristics and adolescent dating violence are limited. We examined 6 neighborhood-level factors in relation to adolescent physical dating violence perpetration using both adolescent and adult assessments of neighborhood characteristics, each of which was aggregated across respondents to the neighborhood level. Data came from an in-school survey of 1,530 public high school students and a random-digit-dial telephone survey of 1,710 adult residents of 38 neighborhoods in Boston. Approximately 14.3% of the youth sample reported one or more acts of physical aggression toward a dating partner in the month preceding the survey. We calculated the odds of past-month physical dating violence by each neighborhood-level factor, adjusting for school clustering, gender, race, and nativity. In our first 6 models, we used the adolescent assessment of neighborhood factors and then repeated our procedures using the adult assessment data. Using the adolescent assessment data, lower collective efficacy (AOR=1.95, 95% CI=1.09–3.52), lower social control (AOR=1.92, 95% CI=1.07–3.43), and neighborhood disorder (AOR=1.19, 95% CI=1.05–1.35) were each associated with increased likelihood of physical dating violence perpetration. However, when we used the adult version of the neighborhood assessment data, no neighborhood factor predicted dating violence. The implications and limitations of these findings are discussed.

Bystander Intervention film from New Zealand previously
posted by Blasdelb (13 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
Yes. More of this, please.
posted by trogdole at 12:29 PM on June 25, 2013 [4 favorites]

School violence prevention programs typically focus on risk-reduction by teaching...

This REALLY depends on the teachers/administrators doing a good job and not letting their "in my day" BS get in the way of good practicable advice.

I hope the training that is provided for the adults who are to train the children is not overlooked.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:31 PM on June 25, 2013 [5 favorites]

There are a lot of pitfalls in this approach, but at the same time things aren't changing nearly fast enough and a new approach seems to be needed.
posted by cell divide at 12:39 PM on June 25, 2013

In my day teachers and administrators were accessories after the fact to violence, assault and brutality.
posted by el io at 1:07 PM on June 25, 2013 [13 favorites]

Good bystander behavior is really hard. It's hard to know what to do, even when somebody is clearly being a jerk. I don't think it's always a lack of courage. Sometimes it is, but sometimes it's a matter of not knowing what I can do to make the situation better.
posted by gauche at 1:11 PM on June 25, 2013 [6 favorites]

"I don't think it's always a lack of courage. Sometimes it is, but sometimes it's a matter of not knowing what I can do to make the situation better."

I know its kind of buried in the FPP, but this is really really awesome and like made exactly for people like the two of us.
posted by Blasdelb at 1:41 PM on June 25, 2013 [16 favorites]

In my day teachers and administrators were accessories after the fact to violence, assault and brutality.

Hey, I have great news. In a lot of places, it's still very much your day.
posted by mhoye at 1:45 PM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

You're right, Blasdelb. That was really good.
posted by gauche at 4:37 PM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

This is wonderful!! Thank you for posting!
posted by xarnop at 5:22 PM on June 25, 2013

Rape culture is just that - a society that promotes and encourages rape. In that context, it seems obvious that the way to tackle sexual and gendered violence is at social levels above the individual and the rapist-victim dyad. Educating, motivating and supporting bystanders to recognize a hinky situation and intervene is a terrific idea. I hope there's an evaluation plan, and that this approach proves to work.
posted by gingerest at 5:59 PM on June 25, 2013 [2 favorites]

I know we, as a culture, have a very long row to hoe when it comes to relationship and domestic violence, but I do look forward to the day when romantic relationships aren't painted with the heavy hand of the dramatic.

I wonder how many teens accept abusive behavior because we are told over and over again that love isn't easy, going to extremes proves you care, and if you don't want to fight for the relationship it's not real.

But this is a good first step.
posted by teleri025 at 6:28 PM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

....and put more simply: If you see something, say something.
posted by brujita at 1:27 PM on June 26, 2013

I commend this, but there's a little bit of nagging doubt in my mind about its effectiveness, remembering my own adolescence. I think there's always somewhat of a problem in convincing people at this age that the lessons you're trying to impart pertain to them, that they're not just another lame lecture about the obvious from clueless adults, and in truly creating the ability for teens to recognize those problems if they exist. I had a tumultuous relationship with a somewhat emotionally abusive boyfriend during this time in my life, and even being pretty smart, I don't know if I would have bought that our relationship was problematic, had I been participating in this sort of program. It takes a lot of (potentially painful) honesty with oneself to reach that sort of insight. I did eventually figure it out (after having bored a couple girlfriends to tears about it for a long time), but I wish I would have done so before wasting four on and off years with him.
posted by jocelmeow at 4:00 PM on June 29, 2013

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