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Safe Dates



Safe Dates, a program designed to prevent dating violence, consists of school and community interventions targeting eighth- and ninth-graders. Primary prevention occurs when the onset of perpetration of dating violence is prevented. Secondary prevention is when victims stop being victimized or perpetrators stop being violent. Primary prevention is promoted through school activities, while secondary prevention is promoted through school and community activities.

The program’s school activities consisted of changing norms associated with partner violence, decreasing gender stereotyping, improving conflict management skills, and help-seeking training. Community activities consisted of special services for adolescents in violent relationships and community service provider training. At follow-up—one month after the program ended—the researchers found that compared with students in control schools, students in treatment schools exhibited less psychological abuse perpetration, less sexual violence perpetration, and less violence perpetrated against the current dating partner. In a subsample of adolescents reporting no preprogram dating violence, there was less initiation of psychological abuse in treatment schools than in control schools. Most of the program effects were explained by the school activities, not the community activities. Few victims of dating violence sought help from traditional community agencies.

Foshee and colleagues (2005) found significant main effects of treatment condition on psychological abuse perpetration, moderate physical violence perpetration, and sexual violence perpetration. These findings indicate that adolescents in the Safe Dates group reported perpetrating less psychological and sexual abuse at all four follow-up periods, compared with youths in the control group. The treatment group also reported erpetrating less moderate abuse than the control group. Treatment effects were the same for those who did and did not report using those forms of violence before the intervention, indicating primary and secondary prevention effects.

Risk Factors


Early dating/sexual activity/fatherhood

Few social ties (involved in social activities, popularity)

Life stressors

Violent victimization


Association with antisocial/aggressive/delinquent peers; high peer delinquency


OJJDP Model Programs Guide: Exemplary program

Crime Solutions: Exemplary program


Vangie A. Foshee, Ph.D.
Health Behavior and Health Education
319b Rosenau Hall
Campus Box 7440
135 Dauer Drive
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7440
Phone: (919) 966-6616
Fax: (919) 966-2921
E-mail: [email protected]

Kaylene McElfresh
Special Projects and Training Manager
Hazelden Publishing and Education Services
15251 Pleasant Valley Road
P.O. Box 176
Center City, MN 55012
Phone: (800) 328-9000, ext: 4324
E-mail: [email protected]
Web site: https://www.hazelden.org/


Foshee, V. A.; Bauman, K. E.; Arriaga, X. B.; Helms, R. W.; Koch, G. G.; and Linder, G. F. (1998). “An Evaluation of Safe Dates, an Adolescent Dating Violence Prevention Program.” American Journal of Public Health, 88:45–50.

Foshee, V. A.; Bauman, K. E.; Ennett, S. T.; Linder, G. R.; Benefield, T.; and Suchindran, C. (2004). “Assessing the Long-Term Effects of the Safe Dates Program and a Booster in Preventing and Reducing Adolescent Dating Violence Victimization and Perpetration.” American Journal of Public Health 94(4):619–624.

Foshee, V. A., Bauman, K. E., Ennett, S. T. et al. (2005.) Assessing the Effects of the Dating Violence Prevention Program ‘Safe Dates’ Using Random Coefficient Regression Modeling.” Prevention Science, 6, 245–57.

Date Created: April 7, 2021