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J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2012 Jan;21(1):1-3. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2011.3263. Epub 2011 Dec 20.

Looking ahead toward community-level strategies to prevent sexual violence.

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  • 1Division of Violence Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA 30341, USA.


The Division of Violence Prevention within CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control recently undertook a systematic review of primary prevention strategies for sexual violence (SV) perpetration. This review identified the lack of community-level strategies to prevent SV as a critical gap in the literature. Community-level strategies function by modifying the characteristics of settings (e.g., schools, workplaces, neighborhoods) that increase the risk for violence victimization and perpetration. Identification of evidence-based strategies at the community level would allow implementation of ecologic approaches to SV prevention with a greater potential for reducing the prevalence of SV perpetration. The field will face several challenges in identifying and evaluating the effectiveness of promising community-level strategies to prevent SV. These challenges include limited knowledge of community-level and societal-level risk factors for SV, a lack of theoretical or empirical guidance in the SV literature for identification of promising community-level approaches, and challenges in evaluating SV outcomes at the community level. Recognition of these challenges should guide future research and foster dialogue within the SV prevention field. The development and evaluation of community-level approaches to SV prevention represent a vital and logical next step toward the implementation of effective, multilevel prevention efforts and a population-level reduction in the prevalence of SV.

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