Prevention – Part III
Tanya Singleton, BSN, MPH, RNC, LCCE – Counseling Intern
In our conclusion of this series of prevention blogs, we will review the final guidelines that the Alliance has developed for implementing SV/IPV prevention strategies.
The fifth guideline suggests that prevention programs should be based on purposeful, logical rationale. Effective programs use certain theoretical perspectives. Etiological theories are based on gender and learning; for example, that sexual violence occurs because there is peer support for such behavior. For example, last year, one of the most popular online purchasing options sold a video game called “Rapelay”, which simulates episodes of stalking and gang rape. Developed and sold in Japan, it was available via their website until much furor erupted over its depiction of the sexual assault of a mother and her two daughters, then encouraging the rapist to force their victim to have an abortion. Games such as this, along with ads found in many fashion magazines that are suggestive of similar behavior give credence to the peer and gender support for such – the “boys will be boys” attitudes.
Programs designed to counter this effect would utilize Change Theory, which fosters individual and environmental change. Such programs can counter the effects of the current status quo that minimizes male responsibility for violence towards women and fosters a masculinity that respects and protects women.
Other programs utilize Process Theory, which presents a step-by-step process that explains in detail how the problem will be addressed. This could be effective in making environmental changes, such as changing the way media glamorizes violent behavior toward women. These strategies often use logic models.
The sixth guideline focuses on prevention strategies that are developmentally appropriate. This begins at home, by teaching children about healthly relationships and healthy sexuality from birth. Unfortunately, this is not always incorporated in the little parenting classes that are available to the general public, and in our locality, most families do not take advantage of those offered. Curricula like “Worth the Wait” that the Rappahannock Teen Awareness Program (RappTAP) utilizes and “Choose Respect” offered through RCASA provide age appropriate activities directed towards middle and high school students. It will require parental lobbying efforts to introduce programs such as these at the elementary grade levels, but it is beneficial that younger children acquire protective factors that lead to the formation of healthy relationships and avoid risk factors that are accepting of abusive relationships.
The seventh guideline addresses prevention strategies that collaborate with diverse community members to include many cultural beliefs, practices and community norms. The effective programs in this guideline include beliefs and practices of different cultures, assuring cultural sensitivity and acquiring knowledge of beliefs held in order to provide a culturally appropriate and relevant program. This requires direct involvement with the stakeholders of the cultural group, being sensitive to issues of social justice, equity and anti-oppression.
The eighth guideline stresses prevention strategies that include a systematic method to determine program effectiveness and promote continuous quality improvement. This requires an evaluation strategy which uses the information gathered to continuously make improvements to the content and delivery to improve outcomes. The evaluative process should include both process and outcome measures components. RappTAP utilizes a university-based, independent evaluation approach and has made several improvements to meet the need of the population served.
The ninth and final guideline suggests prevention strategies as an integral part of the agency mission to end sexual violence/intimate partner violence. The three tenets recommended by the Action Alliance are:
Effective prevention programs are part of an organization’s strategic plan
Effective prevention programs are given the financial and personnel resources needed to achieve the desired outcomes
Effective prevention programs are based on agency-wide commitment to prevention in accordance with the aforementioned principles.
Although adequate funding is always a challenge for non-profit and community service agencies, the community needs to be aware of the critical need for their services and seek ways to support the missions.
Virginia Sexual & Domestic Violence Action Alliance (2009) Guidelines for the Primary Prevention of Sexual Violence and Intimate Partner Violence. Richmond, VA: Author.