Project STRONG: A web-based dating violence prevention program for parents and middle school boys Dating violence first emerges in early adolescence and is associated with negative impacts including declines in academic performance, mental health, and psychosocial functioning. Despite broad calls for primary prevention, few programs with demonstrated efficacy exist. Further, the vast majority of existing programs are designed to be delivered in small mixed-gender groups and do not capitalize on the importance of parents in modeling and influencing the choices their child makes in their future romantic relationships. Further, there is a dearth of programs designed specifically for males despite growing research that has identified gender differences in risk factors for DV. To address these gaps, STRONG was developed as a web-based intervention for early adolescent males and their parent/guardian to complete together. The curriculum is grounded in Developmental Assets Theory which asserts that family support, knowledge, values development, and social skills are necessary for healthy development and offset the emergence of risk behavior. The curriculum is also informed by the DV literature which suggests that emotion regulation and communication skills are key mechanisms involved in DV behaviors. STRONG has been previously piloted with parent-son dyads (7th and 8th grade males) and demonstrates promising impact on key outcomes and target mechanisms. The proposed project builds on these initial findings by testing the efficacy of STRONG with a sample of 340 parent-son dyads on the primary outcome of adolescent self-reported dating violence. We will also evaluate the impact on other violence-related measures (e.g., attitudes, aggression, discipline problems, other risk behaviors) as well as on the proposed mediators of these effects, emotion regulation and parent-adolescent communication. We will implement a Hybrid 1 design that expands upon our efficacy trial by exploring critical factors involved in future dissemination of the program, such as challenges to implementation and cost considerations. By testing the efficacy of STRONG in tandem with future dissemination questions, we are able to shorten the time-lag often observed in bringing evidence-based interventions to the community.

Public Health Relevance

The proposed research will fill a gap by testing the efficacy of STRONG, a web-based dating violence prevention program for parents and early adolescent boys that fosters communication and emotion regulation skills as well as education about relationship health. This application addresses Healthy People 2020's indicator AH-3 to ?increase the percentage of adolescents who are connected to a parent or other positive adult caretaker? and AH-3.1 to ?increase the proportion of adolescents who have an adult in their lives with whom they can talk about serious problems.? It also addresses Healthy People 2020's objectives to ?reduce violence by current or former intimate partners? (IVP-39).

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Research Project (R01)
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Psychosocial Development, Risk and Prevention Study Section (PDRP)
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Esposito, Layla E
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Rhode Island Hospital
United States
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