For young adults who are victims of dating violence, a unique health education programme – designed to delay sexual behaviour and promote healthy dating relationships – can significantly reduce the menace.
Named “It’s Your Game… Keep it Real (IYG)”, it can address four areas of dating violence: physical victimisation, emotional victimisation, physical perpetration and emotional perpetration.
“We found a significant decrease in physical dating violence victimisation, emotional dating violence victimisation and emotional dating violence perpetration by the time students reached ninth grade,” said Melissa Peskin, an assistant professor at University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth).
The study examined 766 students in 10 middle schools in a large, urban school district in southeast Texas.
IYG had previously shown to be effective in delaying sexual initiation and reducing sexual risk behaviour.
The programme includes both classroom and computer-based activities and is geared toward middle school students.
“The foundation of looking at adolescent sexual health is helping young people understand what healthy relationships look like,” Peskin added.
The lessons include identifying the characteristics of healthy and unhealthy relationships, skills training for evaluating relationships, strategies for reducing peer pressure, obtaining social support, setting personal limits and respecting others’ limits.
“It’s Your Game is already being widely disseminated for teenage pregnancy prevention, so it is another bonus that the programme reduces dating violence as well,” Peskin noted.
The research was published in the American Journal of Public Health.