Public Health and Violence Prevention: Community and Societal
Updated: Apr 18
In the first blog of this series, we talked about the four layers of the social-ecological model and its use in preventing domestic violence. In our previous blog, we determined that a relationship free of violence would be our “cake”.
We stated that there are several ingredients, tools and steps to making a cake truly successful. Certain things can negatively impact the success of our cake, like a missing ingredient - these are what we call risk factors. Knowledge or items that help us make a successful cake are what we call protective factors. Risk and protective factors are used by public health professionals to address interpersonal violence. These are factors that can increase or decrease the chances of domestic violence occurring.
In this final blog, we will be talking more about the outer two layers of the model: community and societal. Community factors focus on where we bake a cake - think of it as our oven or even the whole kitchen. Meanwhile, societal factors impact what a “normal” cake should look and taste like. In violence prevention, community factors relate to where a relationship takes place, such as school, work or neighborhoods. Societal factors relate to larger cultural values and norms around relationships and violence. Some of these factors include:
All of the above factors impact the likelihood that domestic violence will occur. You are less likely to have a healthy and safe relationship when the community you live, work or play in does not feel healthy and safe itself. Just like if your oven doesn’t work properly and is too hot or cold, you may not end up with as successful of a cake as you had hoped. To ensure the best success for your cake, you want to be able to coordinate your resources and have everything as accessible as possible. At Sojourner, we help to ensure that resources related to domestic violence are always accessible to those who need them. We also work to coordinate resources within the community, through relationships with local schools, community groups, police and more.
We also have to understand why we think a cake should look or taste a specific way - what is considered “normal” in our society. What society makes us think is normal, can positively or negatively affect what we do, both in terms of a cake or a relationship. If society as a whole accepts that violence is normal in relationships, then we as individuals are more likely to accept that idea too. Sojourner helps encourage positive norms in society about healthy and safe relationships through active community education and outreach.
Throughout all three blogs, we have introduced how domestic violence is affected by factors on different layers of the social-ecological model. It is important to note that much like cake, we need many different factors to work positively together to create healthy and safe relationships.
The above post was written by Outreach and Education intern, Brandi H. She is currently finishing up her Master of Public Health in Maternal and Child Health at the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities. Her graduate studies at the U have allowed her to expand on her personal and academic interests in domestic violence prevention and we are happy to have her with us.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Social-Ecological Model: A Framework for Violence. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/sem_framewrk-a.pdf
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2022. Fast Facts: Preventing Teen Dating Violence. https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/intimatepartnerviolence/teendatingviolence/fastfact.html
Wilkins, N., Tsao, B., Hertz, M., Davis, R., Klevens, J. (2014). Connecting the Dots: An Overview of the Links Among Multiple Forms of Violence. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Oakland, CA: Prevention Institute