Prevention practitioners are looking for ways to expand prevention to the community level of the social ecological model. One way to do that is through exploring and implementing situational prevention strategies. A new report, available to download on our website, provides prevention practitioners a framework for situational prevention in practice on college campuses.
Enhancing Campus Sexual Assault Prevention Efforts Through Situational Interventions explores theories, methodology, and examples of situational prevention efforts to reduce sexual violence on college campuses. Situational prevention looks at environments, both physical and social, that contribute to or protect against violence, and then uses a combination of public health, criminology, and social justice frameworks to alter those environments for sexual violence prevention.
Read the report here, and register for the PreventConnect web conference with the authors of the report here. A recording of the web conference will be available online here after the web conference has concluded.
Two recent research articles shed light on the ways gender equity protects against sexual violence, both on an individual-level and at community- and societal-levels.
Male Adolescents’ Gender Attitudes and Violence: Implications for Youth Violence Prevention finds that young men who report more gender equitable attitudes, like not needing to hit another guy to get respect, are less likely to report engaging in multiple acts of violence, including dating violence. This study also finds that witnessing peers engaging in harmful or violent behaviors increases adolescent boys’ likelihood of engaging in violence themselves. Violence prevention programs outside the United States have been using a gender transformative approach and achieving success with reducing violence, and this study highlights the need for violence prevention in the U.S. to address gender equity and provide opportunities for young and adolescent boys to engage with gender transformative content.
Individual attitudes about gender equity affect violence, as do broader community- and societal-level structures. Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analyzed state-level gender inequality and sexual violence rates across the United States. Gender inequality is measured by the Gender Inequality Index (GII), which examines community-level indicators of gender inequality such as labor participation, adolescent birth rate, and female representation in elected offices. The study analyzes each state’s GII with state-level sexual violence data from the 2012 NISVS.
Overall, states with higher gender inequality (unequal labor participation, higher adolescent birth rate, and less female representation in elected offices) also had higher prevalences of completed or attempted rape using physical force among women. However, states that had lower levels of gender inequality (more equal labor participation, lower adolescent birth rate, and more female representation in elected offices) had higher levels of non-contact unwanted sexual experiences, like verbal sexual harassment. This mimics the “Nordic paradox,” but studies have also found that while initial backlash to gender equity increases rates of sexual violence, this is short lived and gender equality decreases sexual violence in the long-run.
Both of these research articles have important implications for prevention. First, it highlights the need for prevention programs to focus on gender equity across the social ecological model. Promoting gender equitable attitudes at the individual level and promoting gender equitable norms at the societal level will have great impacts for preventing violence. Prevention practitioners should also be aware of potential complications and be prepared to address them. In the research on adolescent boys and gender equitable attitudes, study authors found that there was no affect on homophobic teasing, meaning that this harmful behavior has been so normalized that despite some adolescents having gender equitable attitudes, the risk of perpetrating or continuing to perpetrate bullying against LGBTQ+ people remained. Prevention practitioners should be aware not only of backlash to gender equity, but also know what harmful norms are already entrenched in a community and address and change those explicitly, too. This also ties to the need for sexual and intimate partner violence prevention programs to connect with other forms of violence, like youth violence, bullying, and homophobic violence, to maximize impact of prevention across many forms of harm.
Changing norms and attitudes around gender and equality are crucial to ending violence, and many communities are already involved in this work. Check out these resources from CALCASA’s national project PreventConnect that highlight addressing gender equity and gender transformative approaches to preventing sexual and intimate partner violence:
- Re-Envisioning Community Norms: Social norms change as a sexual and domestic violence prevention strategy
- Addressing Gender Inequality: Opportunities to empower and support girls
- Re-imagining Gender for a World Without Violence: Art and storytelling led by Black organizers
- Be Bold Not Bogus: Fostering New Masculinities and Preventing Sexual Violence with High School Age Youth
- Gender, Income, and Intimate Partner Violence Prevention
Sexual violence is preventable, and as evidence emerges in the field of sexual and intimate partner violence prevention, practitioners, advocates, and policymakers make informed decisions based on the best available evidence. Together for Girls, with The Equality Institute and the Oak Foundation, conducted a systematic review of best practices to prevent and respond to sexual violence against children and youth. The prevention practices examined in this review span the INSPIRE Seven Strategies for Ending Violence Against Children framework: Implementation and enforcement of laws, Norms and values, Safe environments, Parent and caregiver support, Income and economic strengthening, Response and support services, and Education and life skills.
Although not all the prevention approaches listed meet the threshold for the most effective and most promising practices, even knowing what practices have prudent evidence, and even conflicting or harmful evidence, helps the field of sexual and intimate partner violence prevention have an impact on reducing violence. The 52-page executive summary lists the effectiveness of several strategies and provides examples of what they look like in practice. Many of the strategies and approaches that have at least some evidence of effectiveness for the primary prevention of sexual violence include laws that limit alcohol misuse, community mobilization for social norms change, mobilizing boys and men, changing policies and the physical environments of schools, parenting programs to prevent teen dating violence, and healthy relationship, safe dating, and bystander intervention programs in schools. Also included in the review are practices that are harmful or unintentionally increase risk of violence, like notification and sex offender laws for juveniles who sexually offend.
The more the field knows about what does and does not work to prevent sexual violence, the more practitioners are able to put theory into action for prevention and gain support and buy-in from stakeholders. The urgency to prevent sexual violence–especially sexual violence against children and youth to prevent ACEs and long-term harm–remains no matter how fast researchers work to find the best, gold standard effective solutions. What works to prevent sexual violence against children and youth will look different in every context, so having a springboard of prevention ideas that work, like the ones featured in this report, can activate prevention practitioners for building healthy, safe communities.
The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape and d’Vinci Interactive teamed up to create SafeSecureKids.org, an online resource for adults, parents, and educators to role model and teach consent and healthy boundaries to the children in their lives. The website includes an interactive game on consent for children and adults to complete together, guidance for adults, and videos highlighting the importance of these conversations.
Resources like SafeSecureKids.org make having age-appropriate prevention conversations across the lifespan easier and more accessible. Sexual and domestic violence prevention practitioners know the importance of starting conversations about consent at a young age and to have these conversations be on-going, and SafeSecureKids.org helps adults initiate and continue these conversations. Teaching children that their body is theirs and their boundaries should be respected is key to changing a culture to one free from violence, and can impact preventing adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), too. The lessons on this website also include how to handle rejection, building another key skill that prevents potential perpetration of violence.
The free website, guidance, game, and videos are available to all at SafeSecureKids.org. Check it out and share with the children, adults, teachers, and parents in your life.
The NCAA Sport Science Institute recently released the second edition of their sexual violence prevention tool kit “An Athletics Tool Kit for a Healthy and Safe Culture.” This toolkit complements a previous version “Addressing Sexual Assault and Interpersonal Violence: Athletics’ Role in Support of Healthy and Safe Campuses.”
In the past few years, the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) has made significant contributions to sexual and intimate partner violence prevention by providing guidelines, toolkits, policies, curricula, and resources to support athletes, leadership, coaches, and athletic trainers. This new toolkit emphasizes the role everyone within an athletic department plays in preventing sexual and intimate partner violence on a campus and within communities.
“An Athletics Tool Kit for a Healthy and Safe Culture” centers the need for creating a campus culture free from violence which “values, respects and defends the dignity of all people and upholds the inherent value of each individual.” The NCAA identifies the intersections of violence and the spectrum on which it occurs, such as training coaches, athletes, leadership, and athletic staff on recognizing and stopping misogynistic, homophobic, marginalizing, and hostile language and identifying how this language contributes to violence on campus. It’s guidance and policies like this from the NCAA that moves the needle on prevention to a campus climate free of violence.
In addition to the sexual violence prevention education policy already in place, the NCAA recommends five core commitments for athletic departments to create a violence-free culture: 1. Leadership; 2. Collaboration; 3. Compliance and Accountability; 4. Education; and 5. Student-Athlete Engagement. It’s on everyone to prevent violence, and the NCAA tool kit makes that point clear, as well as providing clear and comprehensive checklists for each competency so athletic departments can monitor progress and identify next steps.
Having well-respected and wide-reaching organizations in the fight to end sexual violence makes our movement stronger. The continued leadership from NCAA solidifies the role sport has in preventing and ending sexual and intimate partner violence. This tool kit expands on that role and helps prevention practitioners and athletic departments cement their prevention practices to achieve our common goal: a culture without violence.
Download the “An Athletics Tool Kit for a Healthy and Safe Culture” and read more here.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) invites preventionists across multiple forms of violence to explore the new Connections Selector. This online tool visualizes what many in the field already know: many forms of violence are interconnected, share risk and protective factors, and interact with other forms of violence across the social-ecological model. The Connections Selector can help prevention practitioners identify prevention strategies based on which form(s) of violence they are addressing, which risk and protective factors they are modifying, and whether they are taking an individual, relationship, community, or societal approach to ending violence.
While most of the information on the Connections Selector was previously available on the Connecting the Dots document, this new tool provides a quick visual interpretation of the document and allows users to narrow down their search for modifiable risk factors. For example, a sexual violence prevention practitioner could want to also prevent teen dating violence, and they want these efforts to have a societal-level impact. The prevention practitioner can select the filter buttons for sexual violence and teen dating violence, scroll down to the societal level of the SEM, and see that harmful norms about masculinity and femininity is a shared risk factor for both sexual and teen dating violence. The practitioner can then plan strategies to address these harmful gender norms and prevent sexual violence and teen dating violence.
The Connections Selector is a fantastic way for sexual violence and intimate partner violence preventionists to see how working to address shared risk and protective factors across the social ecology impacts prevention for multiple forms of violence. This tool can also facilitate cross-sector collaboration by helping practitioners identify how their work intersects with other forms of violence and build connections with other violence prevention practitioners, such as those preventing suicide, bullying, or child abuse and neglect. Combining efforts, resources, and expertise from multiple disciplines and violence prevention topic areas elevates prevention to have a greater impact on creating safer, healthier, violence-free communities.