Much of sexual violence prevention is informed by public health thought. It is partly because of funding (Rape Prevention & Education dollars are administered by the Centers for Disease Control), and partly because the prevention of violence using a public health approach has been gaining evidence as an effective strategy.
The public health approach aims to reduce the collective costs and impacts of injury and illness. While individuals experience a range of personal negative outcomes and experiences due to sexual violence, the public health approach to sexual violence aims to reduce the collective affects of sexual violence in our society. By preventing sexual violence the collective well-being can be improved.
The Public Health Model
- Define the problem
- What are you trying to prevent, exactly? (How do you define the problem?)
- How often does sexual violence occur? (What does research tell us about the scope of the problem?)
- What other sources of information are important? (Personal experiences may illustrate the problem, and voices from your community can help pinpoint how or why sexual violence continues to occur.)
- Identify risk and protective factors
- Risk factors and protective factors are used in public health prevention in order to strategically target norms, attitudes, and values that may either increase or decrease likelihood of a behavior. There is further discussion of these factors related to sexual violence below.
- Develop and test prevention strategies
- Research, surveys, interviews, and focus groups are often used to collect data when designing prevention programs. While our work will be guided by our communities, we often incorporate evidence based programs that meet our community's needs.
- Ensure widespread adoption
- When prevention efforts have been identified as effective, programs are encouraged to adapt these strategies for their communities. In Washington State promising prevention strategies, like community development, are encouraged and supported.