Abstract: Show Them the Data: A Study of Context-Specific Barriers to Implementing Dating Violence Programs in Hispanic Serving Schools and Communities (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

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706P Show Them the Data: A Study of Context-Specific Barriers to Implementing Dating Violence Programs in Hispanic Serving Schools and Communities

Tuesday, January 19, 2021
* noted as presenting author
Heidi Adams Rueda, PhD, Associate Professor, University of Texas at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX
Lela Williams, PhD, Associate Professor, Arizona State University, Tucson
Background: Schools may struggle to implement dating health education amidst competing demands. Academic achievement is often emphasized at the expense of implementing youth development programs, including those targeting violence reduction. School-based interventions are advocated given that youth’s academic performance has been negatively associated with their experience of relationship violence (Temple, 2012). Further, state policies outline how school districts are to educate, provide resources, and create policies to help youth experiencing dating violence. Community agencies providing after-school programs and resources to families are another avenue to reach the most vulnerable youth. In this study we explored perceived barriers to implementing dating violence interventions within schools and after-school programs from the perspectives of administrators and staff.

Methods: Ten focus groups were conducted with high school personnel (n=5) and after-school programs (n=5) serving predominantly Mexican heritage urban communities in a Southwest state (N=38; 3 to 10 participants per group). Groups were held separately for administrators versus teachers and helping professionals (i.e., counselors, social workers) so as to facilitate discussion among those holding similar roles and decision-making power. Students from each location had taken a survey and school-/agency-specific reports concerning youth’s dating violence experiences were shared in order to facilitate discussion concerning barriers to serving youth with dating violence interventions and support services. Dialogue was transcribed and coded thematically. The trustworthiness of the study was prioritized in various ways, including member checking, reflexivity, and researcher triangulation (Lietz & Zayas, 2010).

Results: Seven primary barriers emerged concerning the adaptation and implementation of dating violence services. In order of salience, there were Logistical and Structural factors that made it difficult to adopt programs; these included a lack of funding, time constraints, and a lack of fit concerning current intervention structures. Further, Students’ Immigration Status limited receipt of services, served as a barrier to help-seeking, and contributed to frequent relocation. A Lack of Parental Support along with Cultural Factors were discussed as family barriers that were unaddressed in existing programs. In addition, a Lack of Awareness on behalf of both staff and families concerning dating violence was discussed, as well as difficulty on behalf of schools and agencies to locate evidence-based programming. Priorities and Investment in academics and family rather than dating relationships, and Stigma further contributed to other activities being centralized. Administrators and helping professionals offered similar themes, although some differences were also evidenced.

Conclusions: Although administrators and teachers believe dating violence to be a problem (Temple et al., 2013), few deliver evidence-based programming at their sites (Rueda & Fawson, 2019). Findings from this study suggest that barriers to implementation need careful consideration in future programming efforts, and that schools and community-based agencies need help in choosing appropriate programs, particularly for Hispanic youth populations. Culturally salient programs are needed, as well as outreach and involvement of families. We will speak to how the sharing of survey data directly from the populations served allowed for enhanced dialogue and insights concerning how dating violence interventions may be prioritized, as well as implications for policy.