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Influence of Gender and School-Based Information Sharing About Dating Violence Among Foster Children
Violence and Gender  (IF),  Pub Date : 2021-03-12, DOI: 10.1089/vio.2020.0006
Madeline Astin, Molly Smith

Foster children are at an increased risk of subsequent dating violence (DV) perpetration and victimization. One potential reason for this is that the instability associated with being in the foster care system reduces their ability to form prosocial bonds with parental figures, and thus learn prosocial norms. This is problematic since research has shown that learning about healthy relationships, particularly from one's parents, can reduce future DV perpetration and victimization. Absent stable parental figures, foster children often look to school to learn such norms because it is one of the few consistent factors within their lives. Given that there is also empirical support for gender differences in DV perpetration and victimization, the purpose of this study was to examine the gendered impact of learning about DV in school on later reported DV perpetration and victimization among foster children. Results determined that learning about DV in school reduced reports of physical victimization, but only for female foster children. In addition, results also determined that lesbian, gay, and bisexual girls were significantly more likely to report perpetrating physical and overall DV than heterosexual girls, and that nonwhite boys were more likely to learn about DV in schools than their white counterparts. These findings have important implications for future research and policy, particularly given the increase in DV among adolescents and foster children's predisposition to this crime. In addition, they provide preliminary support for the recent implementation of anti-DV programs within schools, as well as future research concerning the content and context of information sharing.