The Socio-Ecological Model
This model is a framework for understanding how our lives are situated into levels of influence, and we can understand how to do prevention work through this framework. The SEM breaks down four levels of influence in people’s lives (individual, relationship, community, and society) through which we can understand social problems, like intimate partner violence (IPV). We can also use this framework to think about how these levels the likelihood a person will perpetrate or be victimized by IPV.
This level includes different aspects of a person’s life- including their knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs. Here we can focus on mentoring and skill building to work towards the prevention of IPV.
This level includes family and peer influences, but also the influences of people who are leaders in our lives like coaches, teachers, employers, or mentors. Here we can work with those leaders to train them in supporting kids at all stages of development to learn about healthy relationships.
Our communities can be our neighborhoods, schools, workplaces, and even places that we frequent online. There are norms at work in these communities that dictate what is appropriate and acceptable. We can develop prevention programs that foster norms that make violence unacceptable in our communities. Community awareness campaigns, where we can share our research and what we know about violence- but also share ways that people can help prevent violence, are also helpful steps towards prevention.
The societal level of influence is the most expansive, including broader social and cultural norms and values about violence, gender, and relationships. We can work to change policies around violence at this level, and implement larger media campaigns that touch many, many people across communities when we do prevention work at this level.