Our study evaluated the readiness and feasibility of conducting a large-scale evaluation of Start Strong Boston, a highly regarded community-based intervention that teaches middle school-aged youth about healthy relationships and avoiding dating violence.
We used a Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) framework to engage a team of young researchers who had lived in the neighborhoods where the intervention takes place. This approach builds upon the community participatory nature of the intervention itself, which employs high school-aged Peer Leaders to deliver the intervention to younger youth in their own neighborhoods. Peer Researchers were trained in many aspects of both quantitative and qualitative research methods. They helped to design instruments, conducted pilot tests and focus groups, administered surveys to participants, entered data, analyzed data, and participated in dissemination activities, including three who co-authored the publication below.
This study was in collaboration with staff of the Division of Violence Prevention at the Boston Public Health Commission, where Start Strong was developed, and who manages its implementation. Data were collected from participants in the intervention in order to develop a workable evaluation instrument and to determine feasibility of conducting a larger evaluation study. Participant observation data were collected by the Peer Researcher staff to contribute to program improvements and revisions of the Start Strong manual.
Publication: Beatriz ED, Lincoln A, Alder J, Daley N, Simmons F, Ibeh K, Figueroa C, Molnar BE. Evaluation of a teen dating violence prevention intervention among urban middle-school youth using Youth Participatory Action Research: Lessons learned from Start Strong Boston Journal of Family Violence 2018; 33(8): 563-578.