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27-03-2012 | Psychology | Article

‘Coaching Boys into Men’ scheme effective for stopping dating violence


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MedWire News: A school athletics-based prevention program "Coaching Boys into Men" is an effective method of reducing the amount of dating violence perpetrated by teenage boys, say researchers.

Dating violence is a common event in the USA with one in three teenage girls experiencing physical, emotional, or verbal abuse from a dating partner.

"Previous violence-prevention efforts have not generally included coaches as partners, yet coaches can be such important role models for their athletes," said lead study author Elizabeth Miller (University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pennsylvania, USA) in a press statement.

"With the right training and support, coaches can encourage their athletes to be positive leaders in their communities and to be part of the solution," she said.

In total, 16 schools throughout Sacramento County, California took part in the study. Student athletes aged 14 to 17 years (grades 9-12) were recruited and asked to fill out surveys before and after the intervention. Girls were eligible to take part in the study, but filled out a separate gender-specific survey that was not included in this analysis.

The intervention involved sports coaches undergoing specialist training on how best to approach the subject of violence against women before leading weekly 10-15 minute discussions with their athletes throughout the sports season. The coaches were assigned a violence-prevention advocate who they could go to for advice if needed.

The aim of the intervention was to promote recognition of abusive behavior both in self and others, gender equitable attitudes, and intervention when witnessing abusive behavior.

In total, 847 athletes who were assigned to the intervention and 951 who were assigned to the control group (normal coaching with no advice sessions) completed follow-up surveys at 3 months.

Compared with controls, male athletes who took part in the intervention were significantly more likely to intervene when witnessing abuse, recognize abusive behavior, and help to create positive bystander intervention in response to abusive behavior at 3 months.

"There are too few dating violence prevention programs that have demonstrated effectiveness using a rigorous research design," co-author Daniel Tancredi (University of California, Sacramento, USA) told the press.

"This study offers important evidence on the violence-reducing potential of a practical program that can be integrated into school and community-based dating violence prevention efforts," he added.

The results of this study are published in the Journal of Adolescent Medicine.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2012

By Helen Albert

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