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Social work professors' book looks at programs to reduce teen dating violence, sexual assault

News Release — 28 August 2009

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media contact: Herb Booth, 817- 272-7075, hbooth@uta.edu

ARLINGTON - A UT Arlington professor offers advice for organizations and individuals working to prevent teen dating violence and sexual assault in a recently released book.

Beverly Black, professor and director of the master's of science in social work program, along with co-author, Arlene Weisz of Wayne State University, provide a unique resource for effective teen dating violence prevention in their book "Programs to Reduce Teen Dating Violence and Sexual Assault."

The authors describe the core techniques that should be a part of any successful prevention program by drawing on existing research and wisdom from practitioners and educators.

"The most exciting programs are the ones that include interactive activities, such as discussion and experiential exercises or role-plays," Black said. "These activities are more likely to engage youth.

"Teens often hear many lectures about how they should behave, so they are likely to tune out anyone who lectures them." Black added, "We know for sure that effective prevention programs consist of several sessions. Youths' attitudes and behaviors do not change in a one hour lecture."

The co-authors interviewed 52 programs in 23 states, and then shared ideas spawned from those interviews in the book.

"Between 9 and 30 percent of high school students have been victims of teen dating violence and sexual assault," Black said. "Rates vary depending on how dating violence and sexual assault are defined."

She said a recent survey, commissioned by Liz Claiborne Inc. and the Family Violence Prevention Fund, found that 67 percent of teens whose families have experienced economic problems in the past year have experienced abuse in their own relationships.

Unfortunately, Black reported, the majority of teens tell nobody about the violence they experience, and if they do, they tell their friends, not parents or other adults.

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