Is it possible to reduce violence among teens through mentoring? A new program called Coaching Boys Into Men may have found the answer.
Reducing teen violence has been a goal of many programs, with various rates of success, over the years. The main goal of most intervention programs is to teach teenage boys how to control their rage and emotions, which is intended to prevent violence against teenage girls. A new study from the University of California, Davis examined a program called ‘Coaching Boys Into Men’ which uses athletic coaches, who are already both authority figures and mentors to the teenagers, to reduce violent teen behavior.
Coaching Boys Into Men (CBIM)
CBIM’s goal is to use athletic coaches to deliver anti-violence messages to kids, while also providing a role model for the teens to turn to with questions. During the study, 16 schools in Sacramento were tested for one year. Half of the schools used CBIM, while the remaining half served as the control group. Over the one year testing period, over 2,000 students participated in the program.
Coaches participating in CBIM worked non-violence messages into coaching sessions, and provided guidance on how to handle situations that may result in emotional, physical, or verbal violence. Using a self-assessment study before and after the sports season, researchers at UC Davis were able to rate the teens’ improvement in handling and evaluating violence against female students.
Reducing Violence Through Leadership
Dr. Elizabeth Miller is one of the authors of the study, published today in the Journal of Adolescent Health. She spoke with Decoded Science about how CBIM differs from other programs attempting to reduce teen violence.
Coaching Boys into Men (CBIM) leverages the unique role that coaches have to play in the lives of young male athletes to teach them the importance of respectful and non-violent relationships. Because CBIM is easily implemented in weekly 15-minute discussions, it provides an accessible entry-point for coaches who are just becoming familiar with issues like dating violence.
When asked what was the most effective aspect of the program, Dr. Miller stated,
Athletes who participated in the program were significantly more likely to do something (like tell a coach or other adult) when witnessing disrespectful or abusive behavior among their peers. CBIM emphasizes the importance of bystanders in standing up and speaking out against abuse when they see it occurring. By appealing to the leaders in young athletes, CBIM equips them with the tools they need to stand up to abuse in their school communities.
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