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C.—A new evaluation study, commissioned by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and Blue Shield of California Foundation (BSCF), shows that the national teen dating violence prevention initiative, Start Strong: Building Healthy Teen Relationships (Start Strong), had a positive impact on middle school students.Conducted by RTI International, the evaluation is one of the largest studies to look in-depth at healthy relationship development and teen dating violence prevention efforts directed at this young age group.Three sites participated in the outcome evaluation, collectively representing mid-sized and large urban areas and reflecting racial/ethnic and regional diversity.The evaluation matched four comparison schools on school-level features (i.e., school size; percent students on free or reduced lunch; race/ethnicity; and metropolitan area characteristics).“An investment in early prevention strategies like Start Strong is an investment in the future of our families and communities,” said Peter Long, Ph D, president & CEO of Blue Shield of California Foundation.“In fact, a recent public poll found that an overwhelming majority of Californians think we should be educating kids about healthy relationships in middle school to prevent domestic abuse later in life.Futures Without Violence (formerly Family Violence Prevention Fund), works to advance the health, stability, education and security of women and girls, and men and boys worldwide.Through public education campaigns, legislative initiatives, and professional trainings, Futures Without Violence has helped to transform how hospitals, the criminal justice systems, and policymakers deal with domestic violence and dating violence and sexual assault.

When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime. Follow the Foundation on Twitter at org/twitter or on Facebook at org/facebook.Blue Shield of California Foundation is one of the state’s largest and most trusted grantmaking organizations.Its mission is to improve the lives of all Californians, particularly the underserved, by making health care accessible, effective, and affordable, and by ending domestic violence. The Foundation is an independent Licensee of the Blue Shield Association.Prevention in Middle School Matters While there is a growing body of knowledge on teen dating violence among older adolescents in high school, a better understand of this young age group is needed.The evaluation suggests that continued and strengthened emphasis on improving student attitudes toward gender equality and challenging the acceptance of teen dating violence might ultimately reduce dating violence behaviors among the Start Strong middle school students.

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