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Early adolescence is a significant time of development, as many middle schoolers begin to explore dating and relationships, and unfortunately, may experience violence from dating partners. Not only may issues of violence arise, but gender roles and norms may also influence adolescents in a detrimental way. Thus, it is imperative to find preventative programs that educate adolescents about dating violence and healthy dating behaviors and norms. During the 2020-2021 school year, 7th-grade students at a midwestern semi-urban school district participated in a dating violence prevention program. Surveys were conducted before and after the program. The group found two dating violence norms showed negative changes: 1) more students agreed sometimes boys have to hit their partner to get them back under control, and 2) it is okay for a girl to hit someone they are dating if she is hit first. We will explore reasons why these adolescents continue to believe violent dating behaviors are acceptable, even after participating in a prevention program. This exploration has the potential to bring awareness as to why students believe dating violence is justifiable and provide prevention programs with suggestions on strengthening their dating violence prevention programs.
Keywords: dating violence, adolescents, prevention programs