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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Pittsburgh: Research Proves Program Effective in Preventing Dating Violence with Middle School Students

Coaching Boys Into Men, a program that seeks to prevent dating violence and sexual assault, reduces abusive behaviors among middle school male athletes toward their female peers, according to clinical trial results published in JAMA Pediatrics.

The trial, led by Dr. Elizabeth Miller, associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health and director of the Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, examined the short-  and long-term effectiveness of the program.

Coaching Boys Into Men trains coaches to speak frankly with their male athletes about stopping violence against women and girls. In 2018 alone, this innovative program, developed by national nonprofit Futures Without Violence and disseminated locally with support of Southwest PA Says No More (a United Way and FISA Foundation initiative), has involved 283 coaches with 1,832 athletes on 63 teams in 31 schools and three community programs in southwestern Pennsylvania.

The study, conducted between spring 2015 and fall 2017, included 973 male athletes in 41 middle schools. Participants receiving the intervention reported increases in positive bystander behaviors — such as intervening when a peer is being disrespectful toward others — by more than 50 percent by the end of the sports season, compared to participants in the control group. This effect persisted through the year of follow-up.

This study follows research by Dr. Miller and her colleagues published last month in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine finding that teen boys with more equitable gender attitudes had lower odds of reporting violent behavior.

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