What are norms? Often, when our Prevention team connects with community partners, we hear answers such as, “things that are normal!” They’re right! As Preventionists, we must consider the next question: how did these things become normal, and are they safe?
When we look around our community, and pockets of environments (schools, restaurants, sport teams, etc), we can see there are many different interactions that may impact how norms are created in that particular space; individual interactions, physical, social, political, and so on can overlap and be determining pieces in the public health. The Social Ecological Model is a conceptualized model of these intersecting pieces that develop norms – which allow us to see risk and protective factors that may or may not exist.
The Vision of the SARA Prevention Program is to create sustainable cultural change that decreases risk factors and increases protective factors to prevent the perpetration of sexual violence at the community, relationship, and individual levels of the social-ecological model. All efforts should aim to impact the most people, with the greatest level of depth and saturation, possible – because ultimately we need to shift entire community norms in order to impact individuals, rather than reaching people one at a time.
Here are some practical ways to begin shifting our language as it pertains to risk and protective factors! These small language shifts can make a profound impact on our community’s perspective of sexual violence.