National Resources on Prevention

Since the ultimate goal of prevention is to stop violence before it begins, prevention requires understanding the factors that influence the problem. Prevention paradigms, originally designed to reduce health problems arising from infectious diseases, have been successfully grafted to prevent social and behavioral problems. We briefly outline of three models. To be effective in different communities, these models almost require plasticity, so that unique contextual factors can shape original strategies, and the models can absorb and thrive on change.


Universal, Selective, Indicated

From the Institute of Medicine (IOM)

Universal programs address the entire population with messages and programs aimed at preventing or delaying problem behaviors. The entire community benefits from it.

Selective/Targeted programs select subsets of the total population that are assessed as at risk for problem behaviors by virtue of their membership to a particular population segment. The goal is to prevent the development of serious problems.

Indicated programs identify individuals who are exhibiting early signs of problem behavior(s) and aim special programs at them to prevent further onset of difficulties.

Primary, Secondary, Tertiary

The public health model

Primary prevention aims to avoid problems before they appear, and includes activities, programs, and practices designed for everyone in the general population to alter the set of opportunities, risks, and expectations surrounding them.

Secondary prevention identifies persons in the early stages of problem behaviors and attempts to reduce negative consequences by changing problem behavior through counseling or treatment. It is often referred to as early intervention.

Tertiary prevention strives to end problem behavior and/or to ameliorate its harmful effects through treatment and rehabilitation. This is most often referred to as treatment but also includes rehabilitation and relapse prevention.


From the CDC, this model considers the complex interplay between 4 levels - individual, relationship, community, and societal factors – that increase the likelihood of becoming a victim or perpetrator of violence.

Individual Level Identifies biological and personal history factors such as age, education, income, or abuse history. Prevention is designed to promote changes in attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors.

Relationship Level Examines close relationships -peers, partners, family members- that may increase victimization or perpetration risk. Prevention programs reduce conflict, foster problem-solving skills, and promote healthy relationships.

Community Level Explores settings, such as schools, workplaces, and neighborhoods, in which social relationships occur. Prevention strategies aim to impact the climate, and policies and procedures in systems, e.g., social norm and social marketing campaigns to promote healthy relationships.

Societal Level Looks at broad societal factors that encourage or inhibit violence; such as social and cultural norms, health, economic, educational and social policies that lead to inequalities.

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International Approaches

World Health Organization (WHO)

  • Chapter 1 outlines the nature, magnitude and consequences of intimate partner and sexual violence within the broader typology of violence.
  • Chapter 2 identifies the risk and protective factors for such violence and the importance of addressing both risk and protective factors in prevention efforts.
  • Chapter 3 summarizes the scientific evidence base for primary prevention strategies, and describes programmes of known effectiveness, those supported by emerging evidence and those that could potentially be effective but have yet to be sufficiently evaluated for their impact.
  • Chapter 4 presents a six-step framework for taking action, generating evidence and sharing results.

In the closing section, several future research priorities are outlined and a number of key conclusions drawn.

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National Programs | Resources

This is a short, not comprehensive, list of national prevention work.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Futures Without Violence

Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP)

  • Gender Violence Prevention Education & Training - MVP, developed by Jackson Katz, utilizes a bystander approach to gender violence and bullying prevention. It focuses on young men not as perpetrators or potential perpetrators, but as empowered bystanders who can confront abusive peers – and support abused ones. It focuses on young women not as victims or potential targets of harassment, rape and abuse, but as empowered bystanders who can support abused peers - and confront abusive ones.

Men Can Stop Rape

  • - Men Can Stop Rape engages young men in gender violence prevention, taking a multi-faceted approach to developing young men as leaders in preventing partner abuse and sexual assault with models that honor the process of change. High school-aged men are given a safe, consistent space to build skills for identity development, gender violence prevention, and healthy relationship conduct. Young men translate curriculum lessons into service-learning activities, public action campaigns, and peer education opportunities with female co-facilitators.

Ms. Foundation for Women

National Bulletin on Domestic Violence Prevention

  • - An eight-page monthly bulletin by experts like Andy Klein covering model programs, research, legislation, court cases, legislative developments, and prevention strategies employed by police, prosecutors, courts, counselors, health care providers, child service agencies and clergy. Requires annual subscription; Sample PDF: September 2009 | Volume 15 | No. 9

National Resource Center on Domestic Violence (NRC)

Prevention Institute

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJ)

VAWnet, National On-Line Resource Center on Violence against Women

  • - A project of the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence

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Prevention by API Programs

Community engagement approaches to prevention in Asian and Pacific Islander programs are in the Community Organizing section. New Visions is an exemplary leader in the field of community-based-organizations doing prevention work.

New Visions: Alliance to End Violence in Asian/Asian American Communities

  • New Visions - New Visions is a grassroots organization with prevention programs that inspire and support sustainable community action for ending violence against Asian women in southeast Michigan. It combines community engagement, social marketing, theatre, arts, media, and other interactive approaches and applies clear outcome evaluation measures; all the while building culturally-specific prevention with and for local Korean, Muslim, South Asian communities.

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“To stop intimate partner violence, we must not only act responsibly and compassionately after violence has occurred, but work more diligently to prevent it from occurring in the first place.“

Anne Menard, Director, National Resource Center on Domestic Violence

“Classical prevention models can be somewhat limiting, so we have been using them differently in our programming. I’d characterize our community organizing projects as “universal and primary”

Mieko Yoshihama, Director, New Visions: Alliance to End Violence in Asian/Asian-American Communities