Primary Sources: Peer Education in Dating Violence Prevention

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Photograph of diverse teen girls.

Peer Education and Leadership in Dating Violence Prevention: Strengths and Challenges (abstract), Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma, Vol. 19, 2010.

What it’s about: The authors of this article interviewed 52 domestic violence and sexual assault prevention practitioners about their experiences using youth as educators and leaders in efforts to prevent dating violence and sexual assault among adolescents.

Why read it: Using peer educators, or leaders, to encourage healthy behavior among other teens is a popular component of many programs aimed at ending teen dating violence and sexual assault. This article reports on the pros and cons of the peer education approach.

Biggest takeaways for youth workers:

Pros:

  • Peer education can be rewarding for both the young leaders and the youth they educate, and it can make programs more relevant to diverse audiences.
  • Skits in particular seem to successfully engage youth, who often resist lecturing and are more used to dynamic or interactive media.
  • Allowing peer educators to relate their own traumatic histories can be a valuable way to engage the youth they are educating.

Cons:

  • Programs should take care that survivors who share their stories are supported and not made to feel vulnerable.
  • Coordinating and facilitating peer leadership programs can be challenging, especially maintaining a consistent group of peer leaders when youth are busy with school and other activities.
  • Programs need enough resources to provide training and support for youth leaders.

Additional references: For more information on dating violence prevention, visit Loveisrespect.org. For more information on peer education, visit youthpeer.org or read NCFY's articles about peer education and outreach.

(Publications discussed here do not necessarily reflect the views of NCFY, FYSB or the Administration for Children and Families. Go to the NCFY literature database for abstracts of these and other publications.)

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