Online Program

Use of theater and health education with middle school students for the primary prevention of teen dating violence

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Sheri Strahl, MPH, Strength United, Van Nuys, CA
Doug Kaback, California State University, Northridge, Northridge, CA
Shad Willingham, B.F.A. / M.F.A., Department of Theatre, California State University, Northridge, Northridge, CA
Claire Torres, MPH, Strength United, Van Nuys, CA
Kenia Fuentes, MPHc, Strength United, Van Nuys, CA
Research suggests that adolescents exposed to family violence are at a higher risk for teen dating violence (TDV) victimization or perpetration; evaluation of current TDV prevention efforts substantiate the need to establish innovative approaches with long-term beneficial impact on adolescents behaviors (Leviton, Herrera, & Miller, 2015).  Studies show that theater offers a safe setting for delivering education and raising awareness of sensitive subjects; theater offers an interdisciplinary, interactive, and collaborative approach to promoting healthy behaviors (Fredland, 2010). Persephone and Me, representing a joint effort between the California State University Northridge’s theater department and the community based organization, Strength United, centers around an original play about a 14-year old girl who experiences family stress, relationship conflicts, and violence. In the fall of 2014, the play was performed for 1,734 middle school students in Los Angeles County. Post-play activities and follow up workshops reinforced the themes of the play and critically explored TDV risk and protective factors. These unique activities paired Boal's Theater of the Oppressed techniques with health education concepts. Results show that 97% of participants report that the project will help them with future relationships; and 92% intend to discuss healthy relationships with others. Qualitative results indicate a health-promoting impact as evidenced by statements indicating the planned termination of relationships newly recognized by participants as unhealthy and an increased valuation of healthy relationship norms. Further research is warranted to explore self-efficacy and long-term impact.  

Learning Areas:

Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related education

Learning Objectives:
Describe a violence prevention program that uses theater and health education. Describe the relationship between teen dating violence and family violence. List three protective factors related to teen dating violence. List three risk factors related to teen dating violence. Articulate the procedure for one experiential that pairs theater and health education techniques. List five strategies for a community base organization to successfully partner with a university theater department.

Keyword(s): Domestic Violence, Adolescents

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have worked extensively on federally and locally funded violence prevention programs for over a decade, including the oversight of several studies that have explored family strengthening techniques to reduce in-home violence. Among my scientific interests has been changing violence-promoting norms as a precursor to community level, sustainable prosocial change.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.