Schools have several competing demands, and often suffer from inefficient access to needed resources. Thus, the addition of any program into an already overtaxed school system must be met with convincing evidence that 1) a need or problem exists and is relevant to the education of students, 2) the problem is amenable to change, and 3) addressing the problem is in the best interest of educators and students. The purpose of the present paper is to present a case for inclusion of teen dating violence prevention programs in middle and high schools. We also discuss a recent survey of 219 employees of a suburban school district in southeast Texas. Specifically, we examined their perceived need for and appropriateness of a school-based dating violence prevention program. The anonymous internet-based survey revealed that a majority of participants believed that teen dating violence was a problem, 19% reported having observed an instance of teen dating violence, and 82% believed school to be an appropriate outlet for the implementation of a dating violence prevention program.

Key Take Away Points

  • Teen dating violence is prevalent and widespread
  • Teen dating violence can be prevented with school-based programs
  • School district staff recognize the need for and endorse the appropriateness of school-based dating violence prevention programs.

Author Biography

Jeff R. Temple, PhD is an Assistant Professor and Director of the Behavioral Health and Research Program at the University of Texas Medical Branch. He is also on the Board of Trustees of the Galveston Independent School District. Dr. Temple's program of research centers on adolescent romantic relationships with a particular focus on the etiology, classification, assessment, prevention, and treatment of teen dating violence. Vi Donna Le is a PhD student at the University of Texas Medical Branch. She received her MPH from the University of Texas Health Science Center. Her major research interests include adolescent sexual behaviors and racial/ethnic health disparities. Alexandra Muir is an undergraduate student at Texas A&M University majoring in biology. Laurie Goforth is the Director of Special Programs at Dickinson Independent School District. She is particularly interested in working with kids with special needs including those with autism, emotional disturbance, or intellectual disability. She is also a Special Olympics coach. Amy Louise McElhany is a Research Coordinator at Baylor College of Medicine. She received her MPH from the University of Texas School of Public Health. Her major research interests are adolescent and child health, including HIV, STD and pregnancy prevention.


Dr. Temple is supported by Award Number K23HD059916 from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development or the national Institutes of Health. This study was also made possible with funding to Dr. Temple by the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health (JRG-082) and the John Sealy Memorial Endowment Fund for Biomedical Research. This work would not have been possible without the permission and assistance of the schools and school districts.



Responses to this Article:

Peggy B. Smith, Building an Evidence-Based Approach to Address Dating Violence Prevention (March 2013)