Nav: Home

Program proves effective in preventing dating violence with middle school students

January 13, 2020

PITTSBURGH, Jan. 13, 2020 - 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 today in JAMA Pediatrics.

The trial, led by Elizabeth Miller, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, examined the short- and long-term effectiveness of the program.

"Given the prevalence of sexual violence and relationship abuse, as well as precursors like sexual harassment and homophobic teasing, we wanted to test whether the program could help middle school youth and have a similar impact as it has among high school students," said Miller, who also is professor of pediatrics, public health and clinical and translational science at the University of Pittsburgh.

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.

"This groundbreaking evidence shows we can effectively reach youth at their most impressionable ages, while they are in middle school," said Esta Soler, president of Futures Without Violence. "This affirms the years of work we have done primarily with high school and college student-athletes and provides new opportunities for helping even more youth build positive, healthy relationship skills."

The Miller-led study, conducted between spring 2015 and fall 2017, included 973 male athletes in 41 middle schools, half of which were randomly selected to participate in the program. 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% by the end of the sports season, compared to participants in the control group.

This effect persisted through the year of follow-up. Male athletes at schools that implemented the program as intended were more than twice as likely to report positive bystander behaviors a year after its conclusion than male athletes at schools that did not participate in the program. Improvements also emerged in athletes' recognition of what constitutes abusive behaviors as well as their attitudes related to gender equity. Additionally, among those who had ever dated (about two thirds of the group), athletes in schools implementing the program had 76% lower odds of abuse against a dating partner one year after the program conclusion compared to athletes in non-participating schools. The results were even more pronounced when accounting for implementing the program as intended (i.e., with fidelity).

"Demonstrating that this evidence-based program can work well with younger adolescents strengthens our efforts to prevent sexual and dating violence," said Miller, also medical director of Community and Population Health at UPMC Children's. "We now have the research to show that introducing this program earlier in adolescence is doable, and that the impact appears to be big. This means we can expect positive results if we scale up the Coaching Boys Into Men program to reach many more youth across our region and hopefully move the needle on this epidemic of violence."

This study follows research by Miller and her colleagues published last month in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine finding that teen boys with more equitable gender attitudes -- those who felt boys and girls deserve equal opportunities and respect -- had lower odds of reporting violent behavior.
Collaborators on the study were: Kelley A. Jones, Ph.D., M.P.H., Lisa Ripper, M.P.H., Taylor Paglisotti, B.A., Paul Mulbah, B.S., all of UPMC Children's and Pitt; and Kaleab Z. Abebe, Ph.D., of Pitt.

The study was funded by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention grant RO1CEOO2543.

To read this release online or share it, visit [when embargo lifts].

About UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh

Regionally, nationally, and globally, UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh is a leader in the treatment of childhood conditions and diseases, a pioneer in the development of new and improved therapies, and a top educator of the next generation of pediatricians and pediatric subspecialists. With generous community support, UPMC Children's Hospital has fulfilled this mission since its founding in 1890. UPMC Children's is recognized consistently for its clinical, research, educational, and advocacy-related accomplishments, including ranking in the top 10 on the 2019-2020 U.S. News & World Report Honor Roll of America's Best Children's Hospitals. UPMC Children's also ranks 15th among children's hospitals and schools of medicine in funding for pediatric research provided by the National Institutes of Health (FY2018).

Contact: Andrea Kunicky
Office: 412-692-6254
Mobile: 412-552-7448

Contact: Allison Hydzik
Office: 412-647-9975
Mobile: 412-559-2431

University of Pittsburgh

Related Science Articles:

75 science societies urge the education department to base Title IX sexual harassment regulations on evidence and science
The American Educational Research Association (AERA) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) today led 75 scientific societies in submitting comments on the US Department of Education's proposed changes to Title IX regulations.
Science/Science Careers' survey ranks top biotech, biopharma, and pharma employers
The Science and Science Careers' 2018 annual Top Employers Survey polled employees in the biotechnology, biopharmaceutical, pharmaceutical, and related industries to determine the 20 best employers in these industries as well as their driving characteristics.
Science in the palm of your hand: How citizen science transforms passive learners
Citizen science projects can engage even children who previously were not interested in science.
Applied science may yield more translational research publications than basic science
While translational research can happen at any stage of the research process, a recent investigation of behavioral and social science research awards granted by the NIH between 2008 and 2014 revealed that applied science yielded a higher volume of translational research publications than basic science, according to a study published May 9, 2018 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Xueying Han from the Science and Technology Policy Institute, USA, and colleagues.
Prominent academics, including Salk's Thomas Albright, call for more science in forensic science
Six scientists who recently served on the National Commission on Forensic Science are calling on the scientific community at large to advocate for increased research and financial support of forensic science as well as the introduction of empirical testing requirements to ensure the validity of outcomes.
World Science Forum 2017 Jordan issues Science for Peace Declaration
On behalf of the coordinating organizations responsible for delivering the World Science Forum Jordan, the concluding Science for Peace Declaration issued at the Dead Sea represents a global call for action to science and society to build a future that promises greater equality, security and opportunity for all, and in which science plays an increasingly prominent role as an enabler of fair and sustainable development.
PETA science group promotes animal-free science at society of toxicology conference
The PETA International Science Consortium Ltd. is presenting two posters on animal-free methods for testing inhalation toxicity at the 56th annual Society of Toxicology (SOT) meeting March 12 to 16, 2017, in Baltimore, Maryland.
Citizen Science in the Digital Age: Rhetoric, Science and Public Engagement
James Wynn's timely investigation highlights scientific studies grounded in publicly gathered data and probes the rhetoric these studies employ.
Science/Science Careers' survey ranks top biotech, pharma, and biopharma employers
The Science and Science Careers' 2016 annual Top Employers Survey polled employees in the biotechnology, biopharmaceutical, pharmaceutical, and related industries to determine the 20 best employers in these industries as well as their driving characteristics.
Three natural science professors win TJ Park Science Fellowship
Professor Jung-Min Kee (Department of Chemistry, UNIST), Professor Kyudong Choi (Department of Mathematical Sciences, UNIST), and Professor Kwanpyo Kim (Department of Physics, UNIST) are the recipients of the Cheong-Am (TJ Park) Science Fellowship of the year 2016.
More Science News and Science Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Processing The Pandemic
Between the pandemic and America's reckoning with racism and police brutality, many of us are anxious, angry, and depressed. This hour, TED Fellow and writer Laurel Braitman helps us process it all.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#568 Poker Face Psychology
Anyone who's seen pop culture depictions of poker might think statistics and math is the only way to get ahead. But no, there's psychology too. Author Maria Konnikova took her Ph.D. in psychology to the poker table, and turned out to be good. So good, she went pro in poker, and learned all about her own biases on the way. We're talking about her new book "The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win".
Now Playing: Radiolab

Invisible Allies
As scientists have been scrambling to find new and better ways to treat covid-19, they've come across some unexpected allies. Invisible and primordial, these protectors have been with us all along. And they just might help us to better weather this viral storm. To kick things off, we travel through time from a homeless shelter to a military hospital, pondering the pandemic-fighting power of the sun. And then, we dive deep into the periodic table to look at how a simple element might actually be a microbe's biggest foe. This episode was reported by Simon Adler and Molly Webster, and produced by Annie McEwen and Pat Walters. Support Radiolab today at