By David Lee on March 17, 2010 · tagged as ,

Do one time presentations work for sexual violence prevention?

Last week there was a vibrant discussion on the PreventConnect Email Group about the efficacy of one time presentation for sexual violence prevention. As a community of prevention practitioners and researchers, many people shared their experiences, knowledge and insights about this subject. I appreciate the thoughtfulness of this group to consider this important question.

If you want to see the full thread, you need to join the email group and look in the archives (starting with message #6325). Here are some highlights of the conversation.

Since single presentations are all that is often available to prevention educators, many people commented on how they use the opportunity wisely as they shared positive experiences with leading single presentations.

Yet, a comprehensive prevention strategy is more than one presentation. Many years ago when working in a domestic violence agency I stopped doing single presentations. Instead, I made presentations as long as I also was able to implement additional strategy such as peer education program or implement district-wide policies.

Perhaps the most important questions behind this is “What does ‘work’ mean?” Grant Stancliff of Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs referred to his article “Single Presentations and Prevention” in Partners in Social Change (Spring 2009) where he addressed this issue:

Is a single presentation really prevention? The short answer is: no. Not usually. This does not mean single presentations do not have a use, however. Single presentations are and will continue to be used effectively for systems coordination and to let partners and community members know about sexual assault, services provided, and the role of sexual assault services within the community. Systems coordination-the how and what of working together-is essential for connecting services to survivors, but is not prevention.

Jennifer Rauhouse of Peer Solutions suggested the following:

I think it is important to understand why you want to give a one-time presentation. Is it to recruit participants into on-going prevention efforts? That can be very effective as long as your workshop is empowering and positive. If it is to change behaviors or meet a funding quota I would say spend your time building relationships with community members. I have a dream that our SV/IPV Movement will move away from one time or even multiple sessions to activities that focus on community and societal level change v. individual level change which is what most of the workshops across the country seem to do.

Program evaluator Stephanie Townsend point out that

…there is the possibility that a FOCUSED presentation that BUILDS SKILLS may be effective as a component of prevention. Specifically, I’m thinking of Vicki Banyard’s work in evaluating bystander empowerment programs. Some of her studies have found positive effects from single-session bystander programs. However, note that the behavioral effects are on BYSTANDER behaviors where individuals intervene in potential assault situations and in expressions of rape culture. I think bystander programs show a lot of promise in many ways. But, again, we can’t interpret their success as changing the behaviors of actual or potential perpetrators. The would-be perpetrator will still try to perpetrate — the difference is that others will intervene to prevent him from succeeding in his attempt. I think it’s important to keep that distinction in mind. We need to be clear about what it is we are achieving and what it is we are not with any prevention strategy so that we can build comprehensive and effective approaches to community and social change.

These were only a few of the many excellent points made in the discussion.

What you do think is the role of one time presentations? And how do they fit into a comprehensive prevention approach?

David Lee

More Posts by David Lee

David S. Lee, MPH, is the Director of Prevention Services at the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault where he provides training and technical assistance on prevention. David manages the national project PreventConnect, an online community of violence against women prevention practitioners, funders, researchers and activists. For over 27 years David has worked in efforts to end domestic violence and sexual assault.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Torrence October 14, 2010 at 6:42 am

Wow! Valuable insights from what I have read so far. I do think that one shot presentations do serve a purpose. However, I do think there is a strong need for comprehensive programs when it comes to sexual violence prevention. What comes to mind is the Stages of Change theory where the first component of the model is pre contemplation where a person or an organization may not be aware or may have never considered any health behavioral change issue. One shots serve an important role in that it may move one from the first level (pre contemplation) to the next level (awareness, contemplation). As long as the one time presentations are part of comprehensive prevention strategy is good, but not good enough as a stand alone. The Stages of Change theory has been used not only in intrapersonal behavioral change, but organizational change strategies as well.

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