Primary Sources: Preventing Violence at Multiple Levels

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Photograph of diverse young people standing together.

The Social-Ecological Model: A Framework for Violence Prevention,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, August 2011.

What it's about: This fact sheet describes a four-level "social ecological" model that enables social service providers to better understand violence and the potential effect of strategies to prevent it. The model takes into consideration how individual, relationship, community and societal factors combine to put people at risk for -- or protect them from -- experiencing violence in their lives.

Why read it: To prevent violence, we need to understand the factors that influence it. This fact sheet describes violence prevention strategies that can be used with individuals; within their relationships; in settings such as schools, workplaces and neighborhoods; and in health, economic, educational and social policy.

Biggest takeaways for youth workers: Violence prevention has to be aimed at each of the levels of the social ecological model -- not just one. Factors that put people at risk for experiencing violence include individual attributes like having less education, using drugs or having friends who are aggressive. Other  factors relate to a person's relationships or the community in which he or she lives, such as conflict among family members and limited recreational or job opportunities. The fact sheet provides a tool that youth workers can use to figure out where they want to make the most impact, where the gaps are and what activities can fill those gaps.

Additional reference: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention developed the www.VetoViolence.org web portal, which includes free training, tools and program planning resources that focus on violence prevention.

NCFY wrote about the social ecological model, also known as developmental systems theory in an issue of The Exchange. Also visit our violence prevention page.

(Publications discussed here do not necessarily reflect the views of NCFY, FYSB or the Administration for Children and Families. Go to the NCFY literature database for abstracts of this and other publications.)

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