Evaluation of the Dating Violence Prevention Project: The Use of Theatre as an Educational Tool

Date
2005-02
Authors
Busch, Noël Bridget
Kulkarni, Shanti
Neuroth-Gatlin, Heather
Mahapatra, Neely
Jang, Kyeonghee
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Abstract
Description
The Dating Violence Prevention Project is a collaborative effort between SafePlace and the Theatre Action Project (TAP) with the goal to develop a prevention project that addresses healthy relationships and dating violence using youth theater. SafePlace is a nonprofit agency that serves domestic violence and sexual assault survivors, and the Theater Action Project is a nonprofit agency whose mission it is to create and promote interactive theater and educational programming that ignites community dialogue around socially relevant topics. Both agencies are located in Austin, Texas. SafePlace and TAP developed the Dating Violence Prevention Project as a primary prevention program to provide peer education to teenagers through interactive theater and raise teenage actors’ expectations about equality and respect in relationships. Sixteen (16) teen actors were recruited from area high schools and community organizations during Spring 2004. Over a period of five weeks during the summer, these teen actors received training from SafePlace on issues of dating violence, sexual violence, and healthy relationships. They were also trained in Theatre-InAction (TIE) techniques, a unique method that combines theatrical elements with interactive moments in which the audience works with the actors toward an educational or social goal. An audience may help decide, shape, question, or examine issues in a TIE program. The teen actors created the performance piece and then met weekly to rehearse, receive continuing education, and perform. The teen actors received weekly stipends for their participation. SafePlace contracted with the Institute on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (IDVSA) at the University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work to evaluate this project. The IDVSA Principal Investigator (PI) used two methods to evaluate the project. The IDVSA first administered surveys that asked about attitudes toward violence, leadership, and dating to the teen actors before the program began (pre-test); the same surveys were given after the development of the production and several showings of the performance (post-test). The researchers also 3 conducted focus groups, one with the teen actors and one with the project staff. This report presents the findings from the surveys and the focus group discussions.
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