Statement of purpose Limited information exists on comprehensive teen dating violence (TDV) initiatives, especially on ones that target middle school youth in urban high-risk settings who may be at higher risk for TDV exposure. This presentation highlights the lessons learned from the implementation of a comprehensive teen dating violence initiative, Dating Matters®: Strategies to Promote Healthy Teen Relationships, which focuses on primary prevention among high risk urban middle school youth, using a public health approach.
Methods/approach The initiative uses a multilevel approach that engages youth, parents, educators, and the community to deliver healthy relationship messages, increase knowledge, change expectations and attitudes, affect behaviour, and reshape norms. Using information gathered from ongoing process notes from training and technical assistance to 4 Dating Matters® grantees, we identified lessons learned with implementation of the initiative.
Results Implementation-related challenges unique to the focus on TDV, middle schools, and high-risk urban youth, along with issues that commonly arise when implementing prevention strategies, were encountered while implementing Dating Matters®. Lessons learned from addressing these challenges align with three thematic areas: (1) reaching youth with healthy relationship messages, (2) creating an authentic voice to deliver these messages, and (3) reinforcing the messages.
Conclusions Lessons learned to date from Dating Matters® can inform ways to improve and enhance the content of new and existing TDV prevention efforts, as well as the context in which these efforts are delivered. These findings can assist communities with tailoring their TDV prevention work to better fit the populations they serve.
Significance and contributions Lessons learned can be applied broadly to strengthen the implementation of multilevel initiatives and, more specifically, for strategies to increase healthy relationships. Findings speak to important considerations for communities striving to develop and/or enhance TDV prevention work with youth and their influencers, particularly those in urban, high risk communities.
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