True Love: Effectiveness of a School-Based Program to Reduce Dating Violence Among Adolescents in Mexico City

Prev Sci. 2017 Oct;18(7):804-817. doi: 10.1007/s11121-016-0718-4.


Dating violence is a significant problem in Mexico. National survey data estimated 76 % of Mexican youth have been victims of psychological aggression in their relationships; 15.5 % have experienced physical violence; and 16.5 % of women have been the victims of sexual violence. Female adolescents perpetrate physical violence more frequently than males, while perpetration between genders of other types of violence is unclear. Furthermore, poor, marginalized youth are at a higher risk for experiencing dating violence. "Amor… pero del Bueno" (True Love) was piloted in two urban, low-income high schools in Mexico City to prevent dating violence. The intervention consisted of school-level and individual-level components delivered over 16 weeks covering topics on gender roles, dating violence, sexual rights, and strategies for coping with dating violence. The short-term impact was assessed quasi-experimentally, using matching techniques and fixed-effects models. A sample of 885 students (381 students exposed to the classroom-based curriculum of the individual-level component (SCC, IL-1) and 540 exposed only to the school climate component (SCC)) was evaluated for the following: changes in dating violence behaviors (psychological, physical and sexual), beliefs related to gender norms, knowledge, and skills for preventing dating violence. We found a 58 % (p < 0.05) and 55 % (p < 0.05) reduction in the prevalence of perpetrated and experienced psychological violence, respectively, among SCC, IL-1 males compared to males exposed only to the SCC component. We also found a significant reduction in beliefs and attitudes justifying sexism and violence in dating relationships among SCC, IL-1 females (6 %; p < 0.05) and males (7 %; p < 0.05).

Keywords: Adolescents; Dating violence; Prevention intervention; Quasi-experimental design; School-based.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intimate Partner Violence*
  • Love*
  • Male
  • Mexico
  • School Health Services / organization & administration*