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By on November 7, 2010

Break down the silos

Photo by Michele Massetani, 2008,

In my work to prevent sexual and domestic violence, I see links to many other related topics such as child maltreatment, sexual harassment and bullying, Yet, often there are different people engaged in each of these types of work, different funders, discrete groups of researchers and separate conferences to address these issues. We are trapped in out silos.

I agree with my colleagues at the Prevention Institute who say that “a good solution often solves multiple problems.”  In the recent issue of Journal of Women’s Health, Vivolo and her colleagues at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention call for linking different issues to build effective sexual violence prevention efforts.

In the article Developing Sexual Violence Prevention Strategies by Bridging Spheres of Public Health, the authors examine risk factors that are common with perpetration of sexual violence and other issues. For example they stated:

Early initiation of sexual intercourse is an example of a developmental experience that is a risk factor for both SV perpetration and negative sexual health outcomes, such as unintended pregnancy and HIV/STD transmission.

Of course, risk factors are not necessarily the same as causes of a problem.  I would not want to suggest that early initiation of sexual intercourse is a cause of sexual violence perpetration. Nonetheless, we can consider the links with other health issues.

I appreciate their call to break down the silos and coordinate prevention efforts:

…although the evidence base for SV prevention is still growing, the SV field stands to benefit from the knowledge of our neighbors in public health, spefically HIV/STD and teen pregnancy prevention. Current programs that are aimed at reducing sexual risk behaviors and increasing protective factors against HIV/STD and pregnancy in high school populations could be modified to include messages that simultaneously target SV perpetration. The core components of effective SV prevention programs could be integrated into effective prevention strategies from other health areas.

Back to a good solution solving multiple problems. I want to go beyond looking at risk factors. If we focus on common protective factors we can link our efforts to build healthy lives and communities.

Below is the full abstract and link to the article on the journal’s web site:

Developing Sexual Violence Prevention Strategies by Bridging Spheres of Public Health.

Vivolo AM, Holland KM, Teten AL, Holt MK. Journal of Women’s Health, Volume 19, No. 10, 2010

Click here for a link to this article.

(Copyright © 2010, Mary Ann Liebert Publishers)

Abstract Sexual violence (SV) is a significant public health problem with multiple negative physical and emotional sequelae for both victims and perpetrators. Despite substantial research and program activity over the past 20 years, there are few programs with demonstrated effectiveness in preventing SV. As a result, the field may benefit from considering effective approaches used with other risk behaviors that share risk factors with SV. The Division of Violence Prevention (DVP) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has taken several steps to identify and understand the breadth of risk factors for sexual violence and to delineate the implications of these factors in the development of effective prevention strategies. This report from CDC will highlight several risk factors that, although not traditionally included in SV prevention efforts, may be important areas on which to focus and may ultimately prevent youth from embarking on trajectories resulting in SV perpetration.

One response to “Break down the silos”

  1. Great framing David! I imagine our conversations with family, friends, neighbors, and also organized people in our communities would offer fruitful results with that approach. I wonder what ways we can continue to practice connecting with all the people in our communities – in addition to offering our insight and resourceful skill to communities of which we are not a member.


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