Like a family but better because you can actually trust each other: the Expect Respect dating violence prevention program for at-risk youth

Expect Respect, a teen dating violence prevention program, was among four programs selected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to participate in an empowerment evaluation project. As one aspect of this project, a qualitative study was designed to investigate the effects of Expect Respect support groups for at-risk youth. The goal was to understand the "how and why" of the program's impact on participants. Group interviews were conducted with five boys' and five girls' support groups after completion of the program. Settings included public middle and high schools and alternative schools in juvenile detention. Participants were asked to describe significant learning experiences in support groups as well as changes in their relationships resulting from program participation. Youths across all groups reported learning new skills including improved communication, anger control, and alternatives to violence. They reported increased knowledge about healthy relationships and warning signs of dating violence and expanded awareness of their own and others' abusive behaviors. Changed relationship norms were uniquely expressed by a boys' group in juvenile detention. Findings indicate that the experience of emotional safety in groups and positive relationships among group members were instrumental in the learning process
Reprint Status: 
Start Page: 
End Page: 
1 Suppl
This article examined the support group component of the Expect Respect Dating Violence Prevention Program. In 2004-2005, interviews were conducted with 10 support groups in public middle school, high school, and juvenile detention settings. Interviews consisted of questions regarding aspects of the program the participants considered the most meaningful and changes in personal relationships, knowledge and attitudes, skills, and self-awareness. Most findings were consistent across groups regardless of gender, age, facilitator, or setting. Participants reported that group norms including confidentiality, respect, and emotional honesty made it easier to share experiences and emotions within a group setting. Positive relationships with group members, rather than the curriculum itself, was reported to be the most important and memorable part of the program for participants. In public schools settings, boys reported improved communication and recognition of their own abusive behaviors; girls reported an increased assertiveness and expectation to be treated well. Boys in juvenile detention reported the most change in attitudes and norms.
Topic Areas: 
adolescent/high school, curriculum, evaluation
Reference Type: 
Reference ID: 
Publication Date: