Healthy Relationships
Violence Prevention Curriculum

In the spring of the first project year, a pilot test will be conducted of the measures with a random selection of students in all three grades. Once informed consent has been obtained, the selected students will complete all measurement instruments and participate in focus groups to proved information about the appropriateness of item wordings and format. They will proved qualitative information about student reactions to the measures and the issues that will be raised in the dating violence prevention program. If necessary, measures will be modified to ensure their suitability. To provide an ongoing source of qualitative data about the experience of students in the program, student focus groups will also be conducted with a random selection of students who participated in the violence prevention program after it is completed each year.

In each of the project years, students in the prevention program will complete all measures as a pre-test in the class periods immediately prior to the beginning of the program, and complete the relationship satisfaction, self-esteem, self-efficacy, knowledge, and attitudes questions again as a post-test upon completion of the learning module. In the first year, the classes in the control group will complete the same questionnaires as the prevention program classes, at the same time interval. If, as expected, there is no significant effect of repeated testing on the control group's responses on the measures, control group participants in years 2 and 3 will not complete the "post test" questionnaire. Participants' scores for the following year (pre-test measures, for students in the prevention program) will be used to assess the longer-term effects of the violence prevention program on all variables. In years 2 and 3, students who graduate to grade 10 will complete the package of measures again for the sake of assessing the long term effects of the prevention program. In the third year of the project, long term impact will be assessed with only a two-month lag for all grade levels, so that data collection can be completed before the end of the project.

To protect the privacy of research participants, it is important to ensure that their self reports to us are made anonymously. However, because we are evaluating the long term effects of the dating violence prevention program, we must be able to track individuals accurately so that their responses on one occasion can be compared to their responses on a later occasion. We will use a self-generated identity code for this purpose. A code made up of mother's first initial, oldest brother's first initial (0's if no mother or brother), day of the month of the student's own birthday, etc. appears likely to be stable and easily recreated over the three years. The exact components of the code will be one of the matters raised with the student focus groups during the pilot test. In addition, the names of the students who were in the experimental and control group classes in each year will be kept on record until the end of the project to permit researchers to select classes for inclusion in the violence prevention program that have a maximum number of students from the previous year's program group. There is no way that researchers or teachers could use these lists to identify any particular student's responses.

Quantitative data will be analyzed by way of full model multiple linear regression, to test specific hypotheses regarding the contribution of program effects on attitudes and behaviour in the long and short run, and what personal characteristics and relationship experiences put boys and girls at risk to be the perpetrators and victims of dating violence. Use of step-wise analysis will allow us to test the social cognitive model o's predictions of what psychological processes mediate the effects of dating violence prevention programs in the long and short run. Collecting three waves of data on the participants will permit a general exploration of causal relationships among the variables by means of path analysis.

Focus group discussions will be tape recorded (with prior consent of participants and their parents), transcribed, and content analyzed using both deductive and inductive coding categories to provide more qualitative information to the researchers and the teachers about the students' responses to the program and the measurement instruments.


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