Coaching reduces dating violence

Athletics coaches can play an important role in discouraging violence in teenage relationships, new research has suggested. Published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, the study found the intervention of these role models might serve to improve the ability of high school boys to recognise and intervene when such behaviour is taking place.

According to researchers from the University of California (UC) Davis Health System, a structured programme entitled Coaching Boys into Men can be an effective tool for preventing these actions.

Elizabeth Miller, a member of the faculty of the UC Davis School of Medicine Department of Pediatrics, noted those who took part in the course reported more positive bystander responses, adding: "These boys were more likely to say or do something to stop disrespectful and harmful behaviours towards girls which they witnessed among their male peers."

Ms Miller said that with the correct support and training, coaches have the ability to turn their students into positive leaders in their wider communities.

Dr Derek Indoe, Chartered Psychologist, commented: "In a paper published by Bristol University School for Policy studies funded by the NSPCC September 2011 Standing on My Own Two Feet, the level of violence that teenage girls aged 13-18 expected as part of intimate relationships should concern all who believe that male English teenagers are unlike American kids.

Programmes such as Coaching Boys into Men makes use of the powerful effect that modelling can have on individuals and groups seen as long ago as the 60s and 70s in the work of Bandura and Walters. Such initiatives as Coaching Boys into Men are similar to those set up to encourage students to be co-counsellors and mediators to promote peace and friendship within English schools as part of government efforts. It is great to see such initiatives.

"The power of footballers, rugby players and other celebrities should not be underestimated and should be used more to promote positive behaviour.

"However, this adulation and programmes such as 'Coaching boys into men' still beg questions about relationships we continue to develop where parenting does not teach respect between male and female, does not model tenderness and compassion, or inner peace and self-esteem.

"We can of course take a fatalistic view of violence being an intergenerational reality that will always be there, or we can be dead simple as parents and by our actions give our children the message 'Do as I do and say' (authoritative parenting) rather than 'Do as I say, not what I do, when I get stressed and coercive' (the beginnings of authoritarian parenting).

"When will parenting become a school subject as respectable as biology A level?"