What is Prevention?
When fire-fighters arrive on the scene to spray a building that’s on fire, they are managing a fire, but that’s not prevention. To prevent a problem, we have to stop it before it happens. Prevention means that a fire-fighter never has to arrive on the scene. So, we change building code policies, train people about how to use appliances safely, and normalize social behaviors that prevent fires.
Similarly, to prevent the harm caused by acts of violence and abuse, we want to live in a community where it is more and more unlikely that any person would ever think of harming another person through an act of sexual violence. To accomplish that, it’s a lot like fire prevention. We adopt new policies, create protective environments where people can interact in safe and supportive ways, and spread skills and social norms that stop the “fire” from beginning in the first place.
Preventing acts of sexual violence is public health work. We rely on the successes of many who have com