The Federal Role
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2009) states the following for prevention of sexual violence: The most common prevention strategies currently focus on the victim, the perpetrator, or bystanders. Strategies that aim to equip the victim with knowledge, awareness, or self-defense skills are referred to as risk reduction techniques. Strategies targeting the perpetrator attempt to change risk and protective factors for sexual violence in order to reduce the likelihood that an individual will engage in sexually violent behavior. The goal of bystander prevention strategies is to change social norms supporting sexual violence and empower men and women to intervene with peers to prevent an assault from occurring.
Other prevention strategies could include: targeting social norms, policies, or laws nationally to reduce the perpetration of sexual violence across the population.
Another initiative is the annual "Take Back the Night" walk which was created globally to fight sexual violence. Each year women and men walk together at night to fight against the fear women have of walking alone at night (takebackthenight.org).
The State Role
Minnesota has developed strategies to prevent and control SA that are comprehensive and focus on the underlying fundamental causes of SA. The Minnesota Department of Health has created a five year prevention plan for sexual violence which includes: defining the problem, identify risk and protective factors, develop and test prevention strategies, and assure widespread adoption. A major focus of this plan is to counteract norms, values or belief systems that contribute to sexual violence such as: oppression of women, tolerance of aggression and attribution of blame to victims, unhealthy constructs of manhood (including domination and control), making it "normal" to commodify or objectify children in sexual ways, a value placed on claiming and maintaining power, and notions of individual and family privacy that foster secrecy and silence.
To counteract the norms we must: change the culture that encourages exploitation and sexual objectification of people of any age and gender, decrease the demand for harmful sexual content of pornography, which is trending toward younger victims and more violence, encourage local and state policymakers to ensure that the workplace is safe respectful, change organizational practices that are harmful to relationships, and to break the silence surrounding the problem of sexual violence (Minnesota Department Health, 2009).
Other potential strategies to control SA could be harsher state penalties for perpetrator's that include longer prison sentences and also mandatory treatment and skills training after release.
The Local and Community Role
One large local community initiative to prevent and control SA includes that annual Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) each April.
The goal of SAAM is to change institutional policies and practices that support behaviors we encounter daily and to change the cultural norms so that SA is not expected, accepted or tolerated. SAAM brings programs together to make a loud and unified statement that the current status of women and children in our society is no longer acceptable (Aurora Center, 2010). Collaborators on this event include the University of Minnesota's Aurora Center, the Minnesota Coalition against Sexual Assault, and others.
Other potential strategies for prevention and control of SA could include universities and colleges collaborating on events and awareness events to eradicate SA on college campuses in Minnesota communities.
Sources: SAAM (Sexual assault awareness month). Retrieved March 20, 2010 from the Aurora Center Website: http://www1.umn.edu/aurora/events/saam.html.
Sexual violence: Prevention strategies. (2009). Retrieved March 6, 2010 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Website: http://www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/sexualviolence/prevention.html.
The promise of primary prevention of sexual violence: A five-year plan to prevention sexual violence and exploitation in Minnesota (2009). Retrieved March 6, 2010 from the Minnesota Department Health Website:
A history of take back the night. Retrieved March 20, 2010 from the Take Back the Night
Organization Website: http://www.takebackthenight.org/history.html.