Families for Safe Dates

About the Program

Studies show that programs focused on helping adolescents manage dating and relationships can build healthy relationship skills and decrease some of the associated risks. Evidence indicates that families have a significant and persistent influence on adolescents and that the family unit is where adolescents primarily acquire relationship skills, knowledge, and values. There is a significant role that parents can play in preventing sexual violence and abuse. For example, the aim of Families for Safe Dates, a family-based safe dating program, is to motivate and facilitate the conversation between adolescents and their caregivers about dating violence.

“I feel like not only has it empowered me, but it made me feel comfortable with being uncomfortable…It gave me tools and conversation starters and topics that I can discuss with my kids that I might not have wanted to discuss before, but they do it in a way that helps me not to be so uncomfortable.” – Parent

Families for Safe Dates is made up of six booklets and was adapted by CDC for use with the CDC’s Dating Matters: Strategies for Healthy Teen Relationships, a comprehensive teen dating violence prevention model.

The six sections include: 

This approach to prevention is grounded in the social-ecological approach and does not intervene with adolescents directly. Rather, it promotes change through the family context, ideally to reinforce positive values and behaviors learned about in other spheres (e.g., school).

 

Evaluation of this program through randomized control trials in the United States found:

  • Increased caregiver perceptions of the severity of dating abuse
  • Increased response efficacy for preventing dating abuse and self-efficacy for talking about dating abuse
  • Increased knowledge of dating abuse
  • Decreased acceptance of dating abuse
  • Increased communication skills with the adolescent.

In addition, participation in the program was significantly associated with less physical dating abuse victimization.

Learn More:

This spotlight was pulled from “What Works to Prevent Sexual Violence Against Children,” a systematic review of proven solutions and best practices to prevent and respond to sexual violence against children and youth (SVAC). The review was completed in collaboration with a group of experts and allied organizations and highlights evidence-based solutions from around the world. Read the whole set of #SVSolutions Program Spotlights here.

Program Overview

  • Program: Families for Safe Dates
  • Organization: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Strategy:  Parent & Caregiver Support
  • Intervention Type: Parenting programs to prevent teen dating violence
  • Ranking: This intervention is categorized as EFFECTIVE
  • Location: United States
  • Age Group: Early and late adolescence
  • Gender: All

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