The purpose of this study was to evaluate the relative effectiveness of a multi-level approach to domestic violence and harassment prevention for middle school students from a large urban school district.
Researchers randomly assigned 30 public middle schools in New York City (n=117 classrooms; n=1,266 sixth grade students, and n=1,388 seventh grade students) to one of four conditions: (1) a classroom-based intervention; (2) a school-wide intervention; (3) interventions that included both classroom and school-wide components; or (4) a (no treatment) control group. The classroom based intervention was delivered through a six session curriculum that emphasized the consequences for perpetrators of domestic violence and harassment, state laws and penalties for domestic violence and harassment, the construction of gender roles, and healthy relationships. The school-wide intervention included the development and use of temporary school-based restraining orders, higher levels of faculty and security presence in areas identified by students and school personnel as unsafe "hot spots", and the use of posters to increase awareness and reporting of domestic violence and harassment to school personnel. Pencil and paper surveys were distributed to students at three different times: (1) immediately before the assignment to one of the four study conditions, (2) immediately after the treatment (or control condition) was completed, and (3) between five and six months after assignment to one of the four study conditions. The surveys took about 40 minutes to complete and were completed in the classroom during one class period.
A stratified random allocation procedure was used. Schools were classified by two stratifying criteria: school size and location in the city. Schools and classrooms were assigned to one of four study conditions according to SAS computer-generated random numbers. Within each of these four conditions, a random sample of classrooms was selected for participation in the study to complete all three waves of the student survey.
Longitudinal: Cohort / Event-based
All sixth and seventh grade students in all New York City middle schools between September 2009 and June 2010.
The student surveys include variables in the following sections:
Knowledge related to domestic violences and harassment prevention measures include questions about state rape laws, definitions of abuse and sexual harassment, resources for help, rape myths, and skills such as conflict resolution. Attitudes towards domestic violence and harassment are measured by asking about the acceptability of violent, abusive, and harassing behaviors.Behavioral intentions are measured by asking about willingness to intervene in harmful situations, interrupt harassment, and show an intent to avoid harmful relationships. Behavior is a self-reported measured asking about perpetration and victimization involving domestic violence and harassment.
The survey also includes a small number of demographic variables on the students including age, gender, and ethnicity/racial background, and questions on prior attendance at an educational program about sexual assault, harassment, or violence, and prior history of dating.
Within the final sample of 30 schools, the response rate for students was 93 percent at the baseline survey. Eighty-seven percent of the students in classes assigned to take the survey completed the first follow-up survey (immediately after the intervention) and 82 percent completed six-month follow-up survey.