What is Primary Prevention?
Primary prevention is a prevention approach that focuses on stopping violence before it ever occurs. This is different than secondary prevention, which focuses on helping victims deal with consequences immediately after experiencing violence, or tertiary prevention, which focuses on helping victims deal with longer term consequences of violence.
There is a popular fishing story that describes how primary prevention is like moving “upstream” to stop violence by addressing its root causes.
Because sexual violence is a complex problem, primary prevention strategies are often multi-faceted and work to address several of the six levels of the Spectrum of Prevention.
What makes prevention efforts effective?
According to the public health model, if we want to end a problem such as sexual violence, we need to understand why it happens in the first place. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have a list of risk and protective factors for first time perpetration of sexual violence. They look at what types of norms contribute to violent behavior, and consider where on the social-ecological model those norms are taking place. All of this theoretical background has helped us understand what works for preventing sexual violence. These principles of effective prevention programming should guide our prevention work.
What are some examples of successful prevention efforts?
Where can I learn even more?
Sexual Violence Prevention in Simple Terms provides how-to guidance and reminders, integrating current approaches (for beginners and pros) in a guide created by NYSCASA, May 2013.
Prevent-Connect is a national online project dedicated to the primary prevention of sexual assault and domestic violence. This is a great source for free web conferences.
Prevent-Connect Wiki is a place to collect and share experiences gained in the practice, theory, research and evaluation of violence against women prevention efforts.
VAWnet is a comprehensive and easily accessible online collection of full-text, searchable materials and resources on domestic violence, sexual violence and related issues. This site offers resources beyond prevention.
NSVRC, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, creates, collects and disseminates a wide range of resources on sexual violence including statistics, research, position statements, statutes, training curricula, prevention initiatives and program information, and provides technical assistance to coalitions, ape crisis centers, national, state and local agencies and allied programs. NSVRC recently published a research translation that highlights several programs that focus on preventing the onset of abusive behaviors as a necessary component to an overall prevention plan using a public health framework.
State and tribal coalitions against sexual assault directory: find out what other states are doing to prevent sexual violence.