I wrote last week on the eve of the Building Healthy Futures conference (hosted by VSDVAA) and promised to report back about all the new ideas on primary prevention. I was completely blown away by two presenters in particular, and thought that their two programs, which are at the opposite side of the primary prevention spectrum, both illuminate the theory behind primary prevention.
The first program incorporate bystander intervention, and focuses on that of bar and restaurant employees who complete a training to be able to identify and intervene when there is potential for an assault. The program was created by the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center. Numerous studies have shown a link between alcohol consumption and an increase of sexual violence, and this program used this information to formulate ways to educate those sober persons to intervene.
The second program that I absolutely fell in love with was Men Can Stop Rape. For anyone who has been in the field for any short amount of time, you have probably heard of this organization. MCRS reaches out to men, primarily high school and college males, to address societal norms that are accepting to gender violence and how males have a responsibility in prevention work other than simply not perpetrating. While I was familiar with the program, I became even more excited after listening to their executive director, Neil Irving, speak. This program, to me, demonstrates one that is going out and doing that seemingly impossible task of changing societal views; a task that seems so daunting at time to think about.
Both of these programs opitimized primary prevention. To sum them both up best they are both telling participants to do something when the occasion arises; whether that something entails a hostess asking a patron if she would like a cab ride home to get away from someone acting inappropriately, or teaching our young males to respect women and demand that their peers do the same.