Less Physical Dating Violence & Greater Condom Use — Among Boys Only?

Research done at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health Centre for Prevention Science in London, Canada, reveals that a course on dating violence and healthy relationships may provide benefits for high school students, particularly boys.

According to ModernMedicine.com:

David A. Wolfe, Ph.D., of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health Centre for Prevention Science in London, Canada, and colleagues analyzed data from 1,722 ninth-grade students attending schools that were randomly assigned to the intervention or to serve as controls. The intervention was a 21-lesson program led by teachers, integrating dating violence prevention with core lessons about sexual health, substance abuse prevention and healthy relationships.

After 2.5 years, the researchers found that physical dating violence was higher in control versus intervention students (adjusted odds ratio, 2.42). Although boys in intervention schools were less likely than the controls to engage in dating violence, girls in both groups had similar physical dating violence rates. Condom use was higher among sexually active boys in intervention schools (67.9 versus 58.6 percent).

“We found support for the hypothesis that teaching youth about healthy relationships and ways to avoid physical dating violence in Grade 9 Health classes would reduce physical dating violence 2.5 years later, but this effect may be limited to boys,” the authors write. “Although overall rates of substance use and peer violence were unaffected by the intervention, exploratory analyses indicated that boys in the intervention schools reported safer sexual practices (indicated by always using condoms).”

Before I say anything else, let me give a great big “Hooray!” that more young men were using condoms!

And a giant “Wo0t!” as the kids would say, that the boys were less likely to be involved in dating violence.

But isn’t it interesting that while the boys in the class were less likely to participate in dating violence, the girls in class were still experiencing the same amount of dating violence…

That sorta changes that “Wo0t!” to a “Shoot.”

Do we conclude that there was some gender bias in teaching &/or course work, and so the girls didn’t learn or accept the information as readily as the boys?

Do we conclude that a large number of the girls date boys outside those classes — and that the girls “knew better” but in the intimidation of the moment(s), they fell prey to boys with a more predatory nature?

Are there just a few bad boys dating all the girls?

Or do we conclude there is some sort of discrepancy between what the boys reported and what the boys did — *cough* LIARS!

Because the abstract gives very little information & reading the full report & findings published in the August issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine requires a fee, I can’t really say for certain what I think…

Do you have any ideas?


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  1. To me this greater effect comes from the power of primary prevention and the ineffectiveness of preventing violence by trying to change the behavior of potential victims. The measureable change among the boys confirms other research which has shown that boys are the primary instigators of dating abuse. This abuse can include refusing to use a condom.

    To put it another way: Girls who don’t know about or understand dating abuse and healthy sexuality don’t bring dating violence upon themselves.

    This intervention is a good start, shouldn’t be abandoned and must always be at least as focused on boys as it is on girls.

  2. I’m confused… The research does show some sort of gap as the course, while making improvements, did not improve things for girls in terms of dating violence. The “why” is very puzzling.

    And abyss2hope’s comments only make me more confused… Girls who did receive the education still experienced the same amount of violence dating, so are you saying that the problem stems from those girls not dating boys in the course?

  3. I’m sure if Abysss2Hope is trying to explain the different outcome with girls either… But she (and I) do agree that education with boys as well as girls must continue.

  4. Deanna, sorry my comment confused you. What I saw in this study’s results is that prevention education has a greater impact on those most likely to perpetrate violence against a dating partner, including ignoring requests to use a condom, than it has on those most likely to be victims of dating violence.

    Studies have shown that boys and men commit more of the dating violence so it makes sense that the greater difference is seen in the experience of the boys who participated in this education.

    There is a theory that educating girls about dating violence and respectful relationships will protect them from becoming victims of dating violence and partners who are disrespectful, but this study seems to undermine that theory.

    This doesn’t mean that girls shouldn’t get the same education given to boys. They should. Rather than limiting girls dating choices this study indicates that this type of educational program needs to be expanded so that nearly all dating partners have this type of education since it shows measurable differences.

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