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Journal Article


Lavoie F, Vezina L, Piche C, Boivin M. J. Interpers. Violence 1995; 10(4): 516-524.


(Copyright © 1995, SAGE Publishing)






VioLit summary:

The aim of this article by Lavoie et al. was to investigate the short term effectiveness of a dating violence primary prevention program for teens. The authors compared one short program with a long program format. The impact of the program on attitude and knowledge change among boys, girls and students was examined.

The authors conducted a quasi-experimental pretest-posttest design analysis with 279 students (160 females and 119 males) attending one high school and 238 students (135 females and 103 males) attending another high school in the Quebec City area.
The evaluated program was designed to be used with teens and was aimed at addressing violence in dating relationships (one night dates or long-term relationships). The short format of the program consisted of two classroom sittings over a total duration of 120 to 150 minutes. The purpose of the first sitting was: 1) to differentiate between control over one's self and one's surroundings, and abusive control of others; 2) to classify different types of control (physical and social control, and emotional blackmail) and to condemn them; and 3) to elucidate the significance of the problem of dating violence. The aim of the second sitting was: 1) to establish dating relationship rights of each partner; 2) to show how these rights can be implemented in situations in which there is abuse risk; 3) to elucidate the responsibility of each partner to respect the other's rights, and 4) to provide an understanding that in dating violence the perpetrator is responsible for the abuse, not the victim. The authors stated that the long format of the program included two extra activities (plus a further 120 to 150 minutes); the observation of a dating violence film, and creative letter writing to a fictional aggressor and victim of dating violence.
A questionnaire was completed at pretest and posttest times by students attending the two allocated high schools. The questionnaire comprised 25 questions aimed at assessing attitudes (a 17 item subscale, cronbach's alpha .67) and knowledge (9 items analyzed separately). The authors reported that participants from "School S" were randomly assigned to the short form of the program, participants from "School L" were randomly assigned to the long program format. It was stated that pretest data were collected 1 week before the beginning of the short program and 3 weeks before the beginning of the long program. Posttest data were collected one month after the cessation of both programs. The authors reported that socioeconomic status for the two test schools was equivalent. The mean age of participants at School S was 14 years 11 months and at School L 15 years.

The authors conducted t-tests with students participating in the study and non-participants to determine whether there were any differences between the two groups at pre-test time. No significant differences were found. A mixed-design repeated measures ANOVA was conducted on questionnaire items to evaluate the program's effectiveness. Gender and test time (pre or post) were used as the between-subject and within-subject variables. Results for the attitude scale revealed that students taking the short form program provided different answers at pretest and posttest (F[1,273] = 214.30, p<.001), and female scores differed from male scores (F[1,273] = 26.72, p<.001). The authors found that there were significant effects obtained for testing time among students participating in the long format of the program (F[1,233] = 304.51, p<.001), for gender (F[1,233] = 27.78, p<.001), and there was an interaction effect (F[1,233] = 6.10, p<.001).
The authors found that for short form participants the posttest results were higher than the pretest results. Girls rated higher than boys. The authors established that both males and females improved consistently after program participation. Among males and females participating in the long program format, females obtained higher scores at pre and post testing times. Females improved more than boys after program completion.
The authors conducted analyses of variance for all knowledge items on the questionnaire. It was found that there were significant differences between the pre- and posttest for both schools. Differences were found among the following items: No.8) "Most rapes are committed by a person unknown to the victim" (p<.0028); No.12) "An equal relationship means that both partners have the same tastes and do the same things" (p<.0028); No.16) "A young girl cannot be sexually violent toward her partner" (p<.0028); No.20) "It is possible for a girl to be raped by her boyfriend" (p<.0028). The authors found that for all items except Item No.4 the score means increased at posttest. Scores at pretest were higher than at posttest for the long program format. There were no significant differences found for gender at either of the schools. There were no significant interaction effects for gender by pretest/posttest.
To test for changes occurring among students with the lowest pretest scores, the authors grouped low and high scorers together and compared their attitudes at pretest and then after the program. The authors stated that those participants who had scored one standard deviation or more above their school's mean comprised the high-scoring group (short program format school: 3.44 or more; long program format school: 3.28 or more). Those participants who had scored one standard deviation or more below the mean comprised the low-scoring group (short program format school: 2.78 or less; long program format school: 2.62 or less). The authors found that low scorers improved on 16 out of 17 items. According to the authors sexual violence items differentiated the high from low scorers better than others. Results of a t-test conducted between participants from both programs revealed that there was a significant difference for gender on the attitude scale at pretest (F[1,505]=25.47, p<.001). The authors stated that for both programs there were improvements on the attitude scale after accounting for these pre-test differences. For both programs females scored better than did males. The authors conducted covariate analyses on each of the knowledge items. Results revealed there were significant differences for item 4, F(1,514)=23.23, p<.0055; item 8, F(1,508)=9.67, p<.0055; item 12, F(1,511)=31.67, p<.0055; and item 14, F(1,511)=15.28, p<.0055. The authors stated that adjusted means for items in which there were significant differences revealed that students participating in the short program scored higher than did students participating in the long program. Females scored higher than males.
The authors concluded that, of interest, it was a short program that changed knowledge and attitudes about control and violence by a partner in a dating relationship most significantly. The results revealed that for both program formats there was a similar degree of improvement on the attitude scale, and that the short program format showed the greatest improvement on knowledge items. The authors reported that although this finding was against expectations, the results were accounted for by differences at pretest; higher pretest scores may indicate greater awareness and facilitate better message reception compared with low pretest scorers who may require more attention to increase awareness and alter attitudes. The authors cautioned that the results may indicate school differences rather than program differences.

The authors recommended that: 1) the psychometric qualities of the instruments used to evaluate violence prevention programs be improved; 2) work with teenage attitudes be continued since this was lacking in the literature; and 3) the long-term effects of the program on students be evaluated.

(CSPV Abstract - Copyright © 1992-2007 by the Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence, Institute of Behavioral Science, Regents of the University of Colorado)

Prevention Program
Program Evaluation
Dating Violence Prevention
Short Term Effects
Senior High School Student
Late Adolescence
Dating Violence Perceptions
Juvenile Female
Female Perceptions
Male Perceptions
Juvenile Perceptions
Juvenile Knowledge
Juvenile Attitudes
Countries Other Than USA
Violence Against Women
Partner Violence


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