Core Concepts of Prevention

UHS End Violence on Campus takes a comprehensive prevention approach to ending gender-based violence. Our work is guided by these core concepts of prevention:

  • Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Prevention
  • Bystander Intervention Theory
  • The Social Ecological Model
  • The 9 Principles of Effective Prevention
  • The Spectrum of Prevention
  • Survivor-Informed and Trauma-Informed
  • Peer Education
  • Using a Public Health Approach

Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Prevention

Sexual violence prevention can include primary prevention, secondary prevention, and tertiary prevention. Primary prevention aims to prevent the violence before it occurs; secondary prevention includes immediate responses after the sexual violence has occurred, thus addressing the short-term consequences of violence; and tertiary prevention includes long term responses after the violence has occurred which works to address the lasting consequences of violence.

For more information, please view the article Sexual Violence Prevention

Bystander Intervention

A bystander is someone who witnesses a potentially harmful situation. An engaged bystander is someone who intervenes before, during, or after a situation when they see or hear behaviors that promote sexual violence. The bystander approach works to help community members identify specific roles they can take to prevent sexual violence. This may include naming and stopping situations that could lead to violence before it happens, intervening during an incident, and speaking up against ideas, attitudes, and behaviors that support sexual violence.

Five Steps Toward Taking Action

  1. Notice the event along a continuum of actions
  2. Consider whether the situation demands your action
  3. Decide if you have a responsibility to act
  4. Choose what form of assistance to use
  5. Understand how to implement the choice safely

Common Components of Bystander Intervention

  • Awareness
  • Sense of Responsibility
  • Perceptions of Norms
  • Weight Pros and Cons
  • Confidence
  • Building Skills
  • Context

For more information, please view the following documents Bystander-Focused Prevention of Sexual Violence and Engaging Bystanders

Social-Ecological Model

The goal of primary prevention is to prevent the violence before it begins, and thus requires a comprehensive understanding of the various factors that influence violence. The Social-Ecological Model focuses on individual, relationship, community and societal factors.

  • Individual Level: Includes personal characteristics, biological factors, behaviors, and personal experiences.
  • Relationship Level: Includes interactions between two or more individuals.
  • Community Level: Includes settings or institutions in which social relationships take place.
  • Societal Level: Includes societal factors that create a level of acceptance or tolerance for violence or create change and sustain gaps between different segments of society.

For more information, please visit

9 Principles of Effective Prevention

  • Comprehensive: Strategies should include multiple components and affect multiple settings to address a wide range of risk and protective factors of the target problem.
  • Varied Teaching Methods: Strategies should include multiple teaching methods, including some type of active, skills-based component.
  • Sufficient Dosage: Participants need to be exposed to enough of the activity for it to have an effect.
  • Theory Driven: Preventative strategies should have a scientific justification or logical rationale.
  • Positive Relationship: Programs should foster strong, stable, positive relationships between children and adults.
  • Appropriately Timed: Programs should happen at a time that can have maximal impact in a participant’s life.
  • Socio-Culturally Relevant: Programs should be tailored to fit within cultural beliefs and practices of specific groups as well as local community norms.
  • Outcome Evaluation: A systematic outcome evaluation is necessary to determine whether a program or strategy worked.
  • Well-Trained Staff: Programs need to be implemented by staff members who are sensitive, competent, and have received sufficient training, support, and supervision. Follow up training and technical assistance to staff are critical.

For more information, please view Applying the Principles of Prevention: What Do Prevention Practitioners Need to Know about What Works?

The Spectrum of Prevention

The Spectrum of Prevention is a tool that identifies multiple levels of interventions and provides a framework for comprehensive prevention efforts.

  • Level 1 - Strengthening Individual Knowledge and Skills: Enhancing an individual’s capability of preventing violence and promoting safety.
  • Level 2 – Promoting Community Education: Reaching groups of people with information and resources to prevent violence and promote safety.
  • Level 3 – Educating Providers: Informing providers who will transmit skills and knowledge to others and model positive norms.
  • Level 4 – Fostering Coalitions and Networks: Bringing together groups and individuals for broader goals and greater impact.
  • Level 5 – Changing Organizational Practices: Adopting regulations and shaping norms to prevent violence and improve safety.
  • Level 6 – Influencing Policies and Legislation: Enacting laws and policies that support healthy community norms and a violence-free society.

For more information, please view Sexual Violence and the Spectrum of Prevention: Towards a Community Solution

Survivor-Informed and Trauma-Informed

At UHS EVOC, trauma-informed approaches and survivor-informed approaches are incorporated throughout the prevention efforts and programs. When designing and implementing prevention materials and programs, UHS EVOC incorporates knowledge about the impact and prevalence of trauma in order to minimize re-victimization, and facilitate recovery and empowerment.

Trauma-Informed Approach

According to SAMHSA, “A program, organization, or system that is trauma-informed:

  1. Realizes the widespread impact of trauma and understands potential paths for recovery;
  2. Recognizes the signs and symptoms of trauma in clients, families, staff, and others involved with the system;
  3. Responds by fully integrating knowledge about trauma into policies, procedures, and practices; and
  4. Seeks to actively resist re-traumatization.”

For more information, please view SAMHSA’s Concept of Trauma and Guidance for a Trauma-Informed Approach

Peer Education

Peer education is the process in which well-trained people undertake informal or organized education activities with their peers (people who are similar to themselves in age, background, or interests). Peer education makes use of peer influence in a positive way.

Theories of Peer Education

  • Theory of Reasoned Action: This theory states that the intention of a person to adopt a recommended behavior is determined by a person’s subjective beliefs (own attitudes towards the behavior) and a person’s normative beliefs (how a person’s view is shaped by the norms or standards of their society).
  • Social Learning Theory: This theory states that people learn from direct experience, indirectly (by observing and modeling the behavior of others) and through training that leads to confidence in being able to carry out the behavior.
  • Diffusion of Innovations Theory: This theory argues that social influence plays an important role in behavior change. Opinion leaders in a community influence group norms and customs, primarily as a result of person-to-person discussions.
  • Theory of Participatory Education: This theory states that empowerment and full participation of the people affected by a given problem is a key to behavior change.

For more information, please view the Youth Peer Education Toolkit – Section 1: From Theory to Practice

The Public Health Approach to Violence Prevention

According to the CDC, “The public health perspective asks the foundational questions: Where does the problem begin? How could we prevent it from occurring in the first place? To answer these questions, public health uses a systematic, scientific approach for understanding and preventing violence.”

Step 1: Define and Monitor the Problem
Step 2: Identify Risk and Protective Factors
Step 3: Develop and Test Prevention Strategies
Step 4: Assure Widespread Adoption

For more information, please visit