Journal of Family Violence

, Volume 33, Issue 8, pp 563–578 | Cite as

Evaluation of a Teen Dating Violence Prevention Intervention among Urban Middle-School Youth Using Youth Participatory Action Research: Lessons Learned from Start Strong Boston

  • Elizabeth D. BeatrizEmail author
  • Alisa K. Lincoln
  • Jess Alder
  • Nicole Daley
  • Felicia Simmons
  • Karibe Ibeh
  • Crystal Figueroa
  • Beth E. Molnar
Original Article


Almost half of adolescents aged 11 to 14 have dated and between 10 and 30% report experiencing Teen Dating Violence (TDV). However, there are no evidence-based TDV prevention interventions designed for afterschool, community-based settings with middle-school youth, in high-risk neighborhoods. Start Strong Boston (SSB) is a model that fills all three gaps, founded on partnerships between the Boston Public Health Commission, community afterschool sites, academic experts and evaluators, and youth. Here, we describe the SSB program and discuss how this collaboration built upon successes of this peer-engaged intervention, by developing and implementing a youth participatory action research (YPAR) evaluation study of SSB. Use of the YPAR framework tested the feasibility of employing Peer Researchers in an interdisciplinary evaluation team. We describe how through participation in evaluation research, Peer Researchers improve professional and leadership skills while informing measurement and conceptualization of a program affecting their own neighborhoods. Lessons learned are presented.


Adolescent Dating violence Prevention Youth participatory action research Evaluation Community-based 



This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health (1R21HD083587-01A1; PI: Molnar).


  1. Ackard, D. M., Eisenberg, M. E., & Neumark-Sztainer, D. (2007). Long-term impact of adolescent dating violence on the behavioral and psychological health of male and female youth. Journal of Pediatrics, 151(5), 476–481. Scholar
  2. Ali, A. Z., Ali, & H, N. (2015). Teen dating violence. International Journal of Women Empowerment, 1. Scholar
  3. Alleyne-Green, B., Coleman-Cowger, V. H., & Henry, D. B. (2012). Dating violence perpetration and/or victimization and associated sexual risk behaviors among a sample of inner-city African American and Hispanic adolescent females. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 27(8), 1457–1473. Scholar
  4. Benson, M., & Fox, G. L. (2004). When violence hits home: How economics and neighborhood play a role. Washington, DC: National Institute of Justice.Google Scholar
  5. Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3(2), 77–101. Scholar
  6. Break the Cycle. (2014). About us. Retrieved from
  7. Buhrmester, D. (1990). Intimacy of friendship, interpersonal competence, and adjustment during preadolescence and adolescence. Child Development, 61(4), 1101–1111. Scholar
  8. Cascardi, M., & Avery-Leaf, S. (2014). Case study of a school-based universal dating violence prevention program. SAGE Open, 4(3). Scholar
  9. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016). Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS). Retrieved from
  10. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017). Teen dating violence. Retrieved from
  11. De La Rue, L., Polanin, J. R., Espelage, D. L., & Pigott, T. D. (2017). A meta-analysis of school-based interventions aimed to prevent or reduce violence in teen dating relationships. Review of Educational Research, 87(1), 7–34. Scholar
  12. Exner-Cortens, D., Eckenrode, J., & Rothman, E. (2013). Longitudinal associations between teen dating violence victimization and adverse health outcomes. Pediatrics, 131(1), 71–78. Scholar
  13. Fedina, L., Howard, D. E., Wang, M. Q., & Murray, K. (2016). Teen dating violence victimization, perpetration, and sexual health correlates among urban, low-income, ethnic, and racial minority youth. International Quarterly of Community Health Education, 37(1), 3–12. Scholar
  14. Hickman, L. J., Jaycox, L. H., & Aronoff, J. (2004). Dating violence among adolescents: prevalence, gender distribution, and prevention program effectiveness. Trauma Violence Abuse, 5(2), 123–142. Scholar
  15. Johnson, R. M., Parker, E. M., Rinehart, J., Nail, J., & Rothman, E. F. (2015). Neighborhood factors and dating violence among youth: a systematic review. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 49(3), 458–466. Scholar
  16. Lau, G., Netherland, N. H., & Haywood, M. L. (2003). Collaborating on evaluation for youth development. New Directions for Evaluation, 2003(98), 47–59. Scholar
  17. London, J. K., Zimmerman, K., & Erbstein, N. (2003). Youth-led research and evaluation: tools for youth, organizational, and community development. New Directions for Evaluation, 2003(98), 33–45. Scholar
  18. Malhotra, K., Gonzalez-Guarda, R. M., & Mitchell, E. M. (2015). A review of teen dating violence prevention research: what about hispanic youth? Trauma Violence Abuse, 16(4), 444–465. Scholar
  19. Miller, S., Williams, J., Cutbush, S., Gibbs, D., Clinton-Sherrod, M., & Jones, S. (2015). Evaluation of the start strong initiative: preventing teen dating violence and promoting healthy relationships among middle school students. Journal of Adolescent Health, 56(2), S14–S19. Scholar
  20. Niolon, P. H., Vivolo-Kantor, A. M., Latzman, N. E., Valle, L. A., Kuoh, H., Burton, T., … Tharp, A. T. (2015). Prevalence of teen dating violence and co-occurring risk factors among middle school youth in high-risk urban communities. Journal of Adolescent Health, 56(2 Suppl 2), S5–13. doi: Scholar
  21. Noonan, R. K., & Charles, D. (2009). Developing teen dating violence prevention strategies: formative research with middle school youth. Violence Against Women, 15(9), 1087–1105. Scholar
  22. Oudekerk, B., Blachman-Demner, D., & Milford, C. (2014). Teen dating violence: How peers can affect risk & proctective factors. Washington, DC: National Institute of Justice.Google Scholar
  23. Powers, C. B., & Allaman, E. (2012). How participatory action research can promote social change and help youth development. Retrieved from
  24. Powers, J. L., & Tiffany, J. S. (2006). Engaging youth in participatory research and evaluation. Journal of Public Health Management and Practice, Suppl, S79–87.Google Scholar
  25. Price, E.L., Byers, E.S., Belliveau, N., Bonner R., Caron B., Doiron D, … Moore R. (1999). The attitudes towards dating violence scales: development and initial validation. Journal of Family Violence. 14(4), 351–375. Scholar
  26. Ritchwood, T. D., Albritton, T., Akers, A., Dave, G., Carthron, D., Adimora, A., … Grace, P. (2015). The effect of teach one reach one (TORO) on youth acceptance of couple violence. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 24(12), 3805–3815. Scholar
  27. Rothman, E. F., & Xuan, Z. (2013). Trends in physical dating violence victimization among U.S. high school students, 1999–2011. Journal of School Violence, 13(3), 277–290. Scholar
  28. Rothman, E. F., McNaughton Reyes, L., Johnson, R. M., & LaValley, M. (2012). Does the alcohol make them do it? Dating violence perpetration and drinking among youth. Epidemiologic Reviews, 34(1), 103–119. Scholar
  29. Sabo, K. (2003). A Vygotskian perspective on youth participatory evaluation. New Directions for Evaluation, 2003(98), 13–24. Scholar
  30. Spriggs, A., Halpern, C., & Martin, S. (2009). Continuity of adolescent and early adult partner violence victimization: association with witnessing violent crime in adolescence. Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, 63(9), 741–748. Scholar
  31. Stueve, A., & O’Donnell, L. (2008). Urban young women’s experiences of discrimination and community violence and intimate partner violence. Journal of Urban Health, 85(3), 386–401. Scholar
  32. Tharp, A. T. (2012). Dating matters™: the next generation of teen dating violence prevention. Prevention Science, 13(4), 398–401. Scholar
  33. Vagi, K. J., Rothman, E. F., Latzman, N. E., Tharp, A. T., Hall, D. M., & Breiding, M. J. (2013). Beyond correlates: a review of risk and protective factors for adolescent dating violence perpetration. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 42(4), 633–649. Scholar
  34. Vagi, K. J., O'Malley Olsen, E., Basile, K. C., & Vivolo-Kantor, A. M. (2015). Teen dating violence (physical and sexual) among US high school students: findings from the 2013 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey. JAMA Pediatrics, 169(5), 474–482. Scholar
  35. Wincentak, K., Connolly, J., & Card, N. (2017). Teen dating violence: a meta-analytic review of prevalence rates. Psychology of Violence, 7(2), 224–241. Scholar
  36. Wolfe, D. A., Scott, K., Reitzel-Jaffe, D., Wekerle, C., Grasley, C., & Straatman, A. L. (2001). Development and validation of the conflict in adolescent dating relationships inventory. Psychoogical Assessessment, 13(2), 277–293. Scholar
  37. Yonas, M. A., Burke, J. G., & Miller, E. (2013). Visual voices: a participatory method for engaging adolescents in research and knowledge transfer. Clinical and Translational Science, 6(1), 72–77. Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Health Equity and Social Justice ResearchNortheastern UniversityBostonUSA
  2. 2.IUHR, Bouvé College of Health SciencesNortheastern UniversityBostonUSA
  3. 3.Boston Public Health CommissionBostonUSA
  4. 4.One Love FoundationBronxvilleUSA

Personalised recommendations