More guideposts on our journey of prevention!

This week we have a guest preventionista! Liz Zadnik shares her perspectives on the recently released article, A Systematic Qualitative Review of Risk and Protective Factors for Sexual Violence Perpetration (Trauma, Violence, & Abuse December 2012).

A recently-released review of 191 studies has pulled together some potential risk factors for sexual violence perpetration.  I don’t know about you, but words like systematic review and theoretical framework get this preventionista’s heart a flutter!!  As soon as I could get my hands on this article it was as good as read!  I thought I would share some of the highlights with you all.

Here we go!

1.       In my opinion, the individual- and relationship-level factors present the most promising information for prevention programming.

·         Parent-child relationships had some influence on perpetration of child sexual abuse and sexual violence.  This could point to the need for programs that support parents in having honest discussions with children and engage parents in violence prevention.

·         Empathy-building in prevention programs may have some mitigating effects when combined with other protective factors.  This may mean that building in an empathy component to bystander intervention strategies could have a positive impact.

·         Among high school boys, “emotional health and connectedness” were protective factors against perpetration – highlighting the need to promote a wider range of emotional expression in programs with young men.

2.       The article really highlights some important areas for further exploration.

·         Prevention research may want to start incorporating the lessons learned from youth violence prevention research.  A combination of feminist theory and youth violence developmental approach could produce some mega-innovative findings.

·         Research and programming need to expand in a number of areas: engaging community men (not men on a college campus), individuals in the military, female perpetrators, and LGBTQ communities.  Each of these groups has been left out of research, and programming overall, but could enrich our work by leaps and bounds.

3.       As we might all have known, there is limited research on community- and society-level risk and protective factors

As with any and all empirical or academic research, there are limitations and considerations.  Lots of studies focus on campus populations, youth, and specific communities.  Does this mean these findings represent everyone? No.  Does this mean they’re no longer useful? No way!  I think this review, as well as others like it and more to come, offer a great roadmap of our journey toward a world free from sexual violence.  The more we can experiment and develop new programs and prevention initiatives, the more we’ll know about what works.

Did you read the study, dear preventionist?  What were your thoughts or highlights?


Who am I?
Liz Zadnik, Education & Resource Coordinator for the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape. I’ve been with PCAR for almost three years now, but I’ve worked in violence prevention and reproductive justice for close to six. I’m stoked to be a guest blogger for Preventionista – I hope my thoughts and perspectives can start some productive conversations.