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The Effectiveness of a Domestic Violence Prevention Program in Japanese Agricultural University

Updated: Apr 21, 2018

Tomoko Suga

Ph.D. Associated Professor, Education Center, Rakuno Gakuen University, Bunkyodai Midorimachi, Ebetsu, Hokkaido, 069-8501, Japan. E-mail:


In Japan, the Gender Equality Bureau, which is part of the Cabinet Office, conducted a survey in 2018 on the state of harm suffered by domestic violence (DV) victims regarding crimes perpetrated by a current or former spouse. In this survey, 31.3% of women and 19.9% of men experienced serious violence at the hands of a current or former at least once. In addition, 21.4% of women and 11.5% of men encountered serious violence from dating partners at least once. Although both men and women are subject to DV, the literature does not include studies on the effects of DV prevention education among Japanese university students. Thus, it is necessary to offer DV prevention classes to university students, irrespective of gender. The participants consisted of 353 Japanese university students majoring in agriculture. They took part in our DV prevention program, we examined its effects using a questionnaire, which we administered before, directly after, and six months following the class. In the preliminary questionnaire, 21.5% of university students had heard some story on DV damage from people close to them. On a positive note, 51.3% had taken a class on DV previously, and 10.9% had learned about DV from reading books. Following the class, the students became more aware of DV and retained their knowledge even after six months, as indicated by three statements out of the questionnaire’s seven items: 3) Violence from a woman to a man is not DV, 6) Even someone close to you could suffer from DV, 7) DV perpetrators sometimes apologize after acting violent, but it is common for them to use violence again. The conclusion is that it is important to offer DV prevention classes at universities.


The World Health Organization(WHO) defines domestic violence (hereafter DV) as spouse abuse or past-spouse abuse, and dating violence as an early form of partner violence, occurring primarily in adolescence and early adulthood, and experienced within a dating relationship (WHO 2013). According to the Department of Justice of the United States, DV is defined as a pattern of abusive behavior that used to take power, control or authority over another intimate partner. The definition divided DV to physical, sexual, emotional, economic DV can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone (Department of Justice of the United States 2015).

To have a complete understanding of DV in a society, it is necessary to identify different factors and conditions result in DV. Among various sources provoking the DV, one may refer to cultural pressure, gender inequality, insufficient legal and protective system, lack of financial support and incomes, social and religious factors, marriage patterns, etc.(Boujarian et al. 2016). In Japan, the most recent large-scale survey on the current state of the damages caused by DV was conducted by the Gender Equality Bureau Cabinet Office in 2018 on violence from a spouse or a past-spouse (participants were 3,376 individuals, 1,807 women, and 1,569 men). In this survey, 31.3% of women and 19.9% of men reported experiencing serious violence from spouse or past-spouse at least once. Additionally, 21.4% of women and 11.5% of men reported experiencing serious violence from dating partners at least once. Given these circumstances, it is necessary to implement DV preventive education programs for youth (Gender Equality Bureau Cabinet Office 2018).

In Japan, the effectiveness of implementing DV preventive education for high school boys against coercive acts was reported (Suga 2017). In the USA, five preventive education programs were identified: Safe Dates (Foshee et al. 2005), the Fourth R (Wolfe et al. 2009), Shifting Boundaries (Taylor et al. 2010), Coaching Boys into Men (Miller et al. 2010), and the Katie Brown Educational Program (Joppa et al. 2015). These programs were conducted for high school students, and significantly less victimization was reported after their implementation. The effects of DV prevention education for university students have not seen in the USA. However, a report cited factors related to dating violence among university students (Shorey et al. 2015). Because studies have not explored the effects of DV prevention education among university students in Japan, I measured knowledge level before, directly after, and after six months after a DV preventive education program in this study.

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