Background on Environment & Policy
What are sexual assault prevention environment and policy changes?
- Environment and policy changes create healthy places and practices to support prevention and reduction of sexual assaults.
- Environment changes are designed to build structures and design physical surroundings to support individuals in the community. These may include improving access to resources, services, or support to affect their own health or the health of those around them.
- Policy changes are laws or regulations that are put in place to achieve a goal. These may include organizational policies or public policies at the local, state or national levels. Policies are an important way to focus on the social, economic and environmental factors that influence sexual assault prevention.
- Environment and policy changes can affect behaviors and environments related to sexual assault prevention and reduction, such as:
- support mandatory reporting of sexual assault of children;
- improve access to resources and services for those who have experienced sexual assault; and
- provide assistance to those who have committed sexual assault.
How can I use environment and policy strategies to prevent or reduce sexual assaults?
- Changes in environments and policies are critical to improving sexual assault prevention behaviors, support systems, and reporting.
- In communities, these strategies are attractive because they can reach all community members. Similarly, in organizations, they can reach all employees.
- These strategies can create changes that last much longer than other interventions.
What are the different strategies to prevent or reduce sexual assault?
- Reporting of sexual assaults can be improved through environment and policy strategies. These may include establishing standard protocols within health care settings of what types of information to collect from victims or requiring that school personnel report suspected cases of child sexual assault to law enforcement.
- Services for victims of sexual assault can be improved through environment and policy strategies. These may include interventions to enhance access to legal or medical services.
- Identification of perpetrators or services for perpetrators can be improved through environment and policy strategies. These may include registries and community notification.
What do I need to know to create environment and policy changes?
- Changes to the environment may require promotions or programs to increase awareness of these new or improved resources or services in the community. Promotions or programs may also be helpful in sustaining use of the resources or services in the community over time.
- Policy development is a process that involves many different people and their input may lead to changes in the original intent of the policy. Close supervision of this process is needed to ensure that the resulting policy has not been changed so that the intention is no longer the same.
- After a policy gets adopted by an organization or community, it may require a lot of funding and resources to get the policy implemented or the environment maintained over time.
- Larger environment or policy interventions are often more effective in changing behaviors for members of a community or an organization, maintaining these behavior changes over time. Yet, these larger interventions are far more complex and expensive.
- Environment and policy strategies may be intended for an entire community or for a particular group. For example, the strategy may help communities with few resources through tax incentives for supportive services to be located in the community.
- These strategies can also be designed to affect language or cultural barriers for different communities. For example, policies may require cultural competence of health care providers.
- Other intervention strategies can be used with environment and policy changes to provide information or guidance to encourage and enforce the desired policies, or communication to let others know about the environmental or policy changes.
Who do I work with to develop environment and policy changes?
- To get help with your environment and policy strategies, you may want to work with some of the following individuals or groups:
- school administrators
- civic decision makers
- community members
- educational institutions
- community organizations
- policy- and decision-makers
- mental health and social services providers
- public policy maker
- advocacy groups
- law enforcement
- community organizers
- insurance groups