Because individual behavior is influenced by a range of personal, relational and social factors, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that prevention strategies involve interventions that reduce risk factors and enhance protective factors across levels of the social ecological model. The model below illustrates levels of society; public health strategy understands these levels as interactive and reinforcing sources of influence on behavior.
For more information about the social ecological model of violence prevention visit the CDC.
Risk and Protective Factors
Risk factors are influences that correlate with an increased risk that an individual will become a perpetrator or a victim. Protective factors are influences that correlate with a decreased risk for perpetration or victimization. Identifying relevant community risk and protective factors, then framing prevention campaigns designed to reduce risks and/or to enhance protections is effective strategy for creating effective prevention initiatives. Below are examples of factors for consideration across levels of the social ecology.
- Individual—factors relating to an individual’s knowledge, attitudes, behavior, history or biology.
- Interpersonal/relationship—factors relating to the influence of parents, siblings, peers and intimate partners.
- Organizational/Institutional—factors relating to the policies procedures, practices and culture of organizations.
- Community—factors related to the laws, traditions, norms and practices within a given geographical or population-based community.
- Society—factors related to the broad social forces that frame attitudes and behavior: inequalities, oppressions, organized belief systems, relevant public policies and the media.
The idea is that social change is a large scale operation requiring multiple strategies at multiple levels for success. Individuals carry knowledge, attitudes and behaviors, but those are formed in relationships with family, peers, institutions, communities and society. It is difficult for an individual to change his attitudes or behaviors if those changes are not supported elsewhere in his community or culture. Accordingly, effective primary prevention strategy will require efforts across all levels of the social ecology. Here are a few examples of prevention strategies across levels of the social ecology to get us thinking about the possibilities.
|School-based prevention education programs like Love Is Respect||Mentor programs and Bystander intervention programs||Policy development for businesses, schools, organizations and congregations||Social marketing campaigns and the law||Legislation (sanctions for violence and financial support for DV programs) and media advocacy|