The purpose of this study was to examine the effectiveness of a multi-level longitudinal approach to dating violence and harassment prevention and intervention programming for public middle school students from New York City (NYC). Specifically, whether the Shifting Boundaries (SB) program was of sufficient dosage to produce sustained effects post intervention beyond the six months demonstrated in a previous wave of the study. Second, if schools could implement the SB program in just one grade to conserve resources but still achieve DV/H reduction effects.
The study included 35 middle schools, four treatment groups and three waves of student self-report surveys (baseline, 6-month follow-up and 12 month follow-up). Researchers examined schools that provided varying levels of dosages of Shifting Boundaries:
- Group 1: schools received SB in one school year for 6th graders only
- Group 2: schools received SB in one school year for their 6th and 7th graders
- Group 3: schools received SB in one school year for their 6th, 7th and 8th graders
- Group 4: schools received SB over two school years first in 6th grade and the same students received it in 7th grade the following school year
All four groups were exposed to a classroom intervention (SBC) and a school-wide (SBS) intervention. The classroom intervention was delivered through a multi-session curriculum that emphasized the consequences for perpetrators of DV/H, state laws and penalties for DV/H, and respectful relationships. The school-wide (building-level) based 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 DV/H to school personnel. All students completed a baseline survey and two follow up surveys.
Shifting Boundaries Classroom Intervention (SBC)
SBC classroom lessons varied in the level of content and length by grade: sixth grade has four lessons, seventh grade has six lessons, and the eighth grade has seven lessons. The additional lessons for the 7th and 8th grade students include more advanced developmentally appropriate content. A key SBC goal was for the interventionists to be able to complete the teaching of the lessons in a relatively short amount of time. The lessons for each grade included:
- Sixth grade lessons were based off of opening discussion about setting and articulating boundaries. The topics were taken with an incremental, basic approach. The concentrated on definitions and applications of the concepts of "personal space" and "boundaries", distinguishing which are permissible behaviors, and which are not.
- Seventh grade lessons emphasize the consequences for perpetrators of DV/H, state and federal laws for DV/H and sexual harassment, the setting and communicating of one's boundaries in interpersonal relationships, and the role of bystanders as interveners.
- Eighth grade lessons were similar to sixth and seventh grade students but added additional lessons based on the curriculum called 'Safe Dates'. The lessons for 8th graders included additional material on finding and articulating personal space, establishing boundaries in relationships, mapping safe and unsafe areas of the school, and from Safe Dates - recognizing caring relationships, identifying harmful behaviors in dating relationships, the consequences of harmful behaviors in dating relationships, and helping friends.
Shifting Boundaries School-wide Intervention (SBS)
The SBS intervention included the following components; 1) revised school protocols for identifying and responding to DV/H; 2) the introduction of temporary school-based restraining orders; 3) the placement of teen dating violence prevention posters in multiple locations around the school, including hotspots, with contact names for school counselors to increase awareness and reporting of violence to change environment of school to no tolerance for violence; 4) school counselors or designated teachers worked with representative groups of students to identify "hotspots" where students feel safe and unsafe and 5) the adjustment of school security and supervisory personnel based on the location of the "hot spots" and awareness raising among the school educators about the "hot spots."
Participating students ranged in age from 10 to 15, with a nearly 50 percent split between boys and girls. The students who participated were either 6th, 7th, or 8th grade students in participating school districts in New York City. This district was selected because it had enough schools in the district to participate as well as being comprised of one of the most ethnically, linguistically, and racially diverse populations in the United States.
Thirty-five public middle schools in New York City.
Student Survey from Shifting Boundaries curriculum
Shifting Boundaries curriculum
TDV curriculum "Safe Dates"
The variables in the data set are derived from the survey. It includes 707 variables and 3939 cases (n=3939). The measures that were collected and evaluated by the survey were:
- A small number of background variables on the students, including age, gender, and ethnicity/racial background, attitudes towards DV/H, prior history of dating and questions on prior attendance at an educational program about sexual assault including harassment and violence.
- Harassment: The sexual harassment victimization and perpetration category of questions measured the prevalence of the experience the student had of being a victim and/or perpetrator of sexual harassment.
- Violence: The sexual and physical violence victimization and perpetration category of questions included prevalence (yes/no) and frequency questions (e.g., How many times did you do this to them in the past 6 months? Zero times? 1 to 3 times? 4 to 9 times? 10 or more times?) for being the victim of violence. The questions covered the experience of being a victim and/or perpetrator of sexual violence and physical/non-sexual violence by/of peers. Physical violence items were also asked and included acts such as slapping or scratching; physically twisting an arm or bending back fingers; pushing, grabbing, shoving, or kicking somewhere on the body other than in the private parts; hitting with a fist or with something hard besides a fist; and threatening with a knife or gun.
- Relationship based: Students were given hypothetical scenarios and asked if their reactions to the events and their feelings toward the characters changed when the student's relationship to the characters changed.
- Knowledge of legalities: Questions were asked about knowledge of the law in terms of consent, harassment, and accountability.
There are 359 blank surveys out of 3,939 participating students for a response rate of 91 percent.
AAUW Educational Foundation 9-item scale