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Engaging Men and Boys

The Boston Public Health Commission, in partnership with the Boston-based non-profit Close To Home have been awarded a grant by the Office of Violence Against Women (OVW) to create a public education and community organizing campaign designed to engage boys and young men in addressing teen dating violence. The goal of the proposed project is to reduce teen dating violence and support healthy teen relationships by changing community and gender norms.


The need for this project is demonstrated by:

  • The high prevalence of dating violence among Boston youth, and the significant impact it has on the neighborhoods we serve.
  • The link between dating violence and other negative outcomes, such as poor school performance, substance use and community violence.
  • The lack of programs to engage men in increasing public awareness about dating violence and reducing its prevalence and negative social consequences.

Our four program areas include the following:

  • A citywide media campaign: Built on the B1 Example violence prevention campaign to incorporate messages on how boys and young men can help stop dating violence and reduce young peoples' exposure to violence.
  • A Hyper-local social marketing campaign: In partnership with Close to Home, develop and implement a localized social marketing campaign in the five VIP neighborhoods to engage boys and young men in addressing dating violence. 
  • Leadership development: Train 22 peer leaders (50% male) during the six-week Peer Leader Institute, with a particular focus on gender-based violence and male engagement.
  • Community outreach and organizing: Using Peer leaders trained in the 2011 summer institute; work with community coalitions in the five VIP neighborhoods to engage at least 800 boys and young men in those neighborhoods in awareness and education activities about teen dating violence, healthy relationships and reducing young peoples' exposure to violence.  Developing a healthy relationships curriculum module to engage young fathers in discussing and promoting healthy relationships.


Our program offers:

  • Deconstructing Gender Workshops:  Workshops created by our program staff that help young men deconstruct the unhealthy gendered messages from their environment that contribute to unhealthy relationship and abusive patterns. Workshops can be conducted for a co-ed audience as well.

  • The Halls​: A web series created by the Start Strong: Building Healthy Teen Relationships Initiative and the Defending Childhood Initiative at the Boston Public Health Commission, Division of Violence Prevention.

  • The Halls Tool Kit:  The tool kit is a series of posters and a discussion guide to supplement the web series The Halls and help youth providers discuss issues of consent, healthy and unhealthy relationship messages, defining masculinity. It is designed to empower young men and young women to learn how to speak out against unhealthy relationship behaviors they see in their environments.



Boston Public Health Commission
1010 Massachusetts Ave, 6th Floor, Boston, MA 02118.
Phone:(617) 534-5395 Email: