Expect Respect is a school-based program that focuses on preventing teen dating violence and educating young people about healthy relationships. It was created for schools in Austin, Texas, where it has been used since 1989. This curriculum, which is appropriate for middle and high school students, has also been used by domestic violence centers and schools throughout the United States.
The Expect Respect program includes several components–school-wide prevention activities, youth leadership training, and support groups for at-risk youth. Support group participants are youths who have experienced abuse in the home or in dating relationships. Groups include only members of the same gender, and they run for 24 sessions and are delivered during the school day. Evaluations have found that the support groups offer an emotionally safe and supportive environment for their members, and participants report that they produce changes in attitudes and beliefs, knowledge, self-awareness, and skills in developing healthy relationships. Girls who participate in the groups also report a decrease in insecurity and an increase in their ability to identify unhealthy behaviors by dating partners. In addition, high-risk youth–those who have experienced physical or sexual violence (as perpetrators or victims) in the three months prior to the program– have shown significant decreases in emotional abuse perpetration, emotional abuse victimization, and physical/sexual violence perpetration following completion of the Expect Respect curriculum.
Expect Respect includes three youth leadership programs: the SafeTeens leadership training for middle and high school students, the Heroes leadership training for elementary school students, and the Changing Lives Youth Theater Program for high school students. In an evaluation of youths who participated in one of these programs, 89% reported increased understanding of abusive and healthy relationships; 88% reported increased knowledge of how to help themselves and others; and 82% reported increased willingness to help others.
School-wide plans include faculty training, teacher-led classroom lessons, parent seminars, display of materials throughout the campus, screening of videos and public service announcements, and projects and activities initiated by a team made of both youths and adults on each campus. Students in schools that have implemented these programs express less support for abuse and better understanding of healthy relationships, and more ability to identify abusive behaviors.
- Ball, B. (2008, October). Expect Respect program evaluation: Executive summary.
- Retrieved April 26, 2010, from http://www.safeplace.org/Document.Doc?id=52
- Love Is Not Abuse: http://www.loveisnotabuse.com/
- National Teen Dating Violence Hotline: http://www.loveisrespect.org/
- Whitaker, D. J., Rosenbluth, B., Valle, L. A., & Sanchez, E. (2004). Expect Respect: A school-based intervention to promote awareness and effective responses to bullying and sexual harassment. In D. L. Espelage & S. M. Swearer (Eds.), Bullying in American schools: A social-ecological perspective on prevention and intervention (pp. 327-350). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.