This post originally appeared on the Emory Respect Program blog as part of my work with the program.
Our goal is to create a beloved community and this will require a qualitative change in our souls as well as a quantitative change in our lives.
— Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
I am both a member of Greek life at Emory and an Oxford College continuee. By the standards of the OHP intern team, I am somewhat of an oddity. But, strange as those two characteristics are in health promotion land, I think they are a valuable part of my skill set as an advocate to end sexual violence here at Emory University.
These identities are important to the way that I approach violence prevention because they are both ways to belong to a community here at Emory. Violence prevention work is incredibly difficult sometimes, and my relationship to other continuees and my sorority sisters helps me feel like the work that I am doing is valuable. This is incredibly important for any attempt to make a difference: community membership keeps you grounded, keeps you sane, and keeps you committed–particularly when you’re working with an issue as emotionally fraught as sexual violence.
This isn’t just me: the literature on sexual violence prevention agrees that communities can help stop violence. In particular, there’s a model of violence prevention called “bystander intervention” which I have been researching and am super excited about right now.
I’ve spent a lot of this past summer looking at information accessibility. I work in two very different university departments (one focused on student technology use, and the other focused on sexual assault prevention/response) and both groups spend a substantial amount of time looking at how to make information as accessible as possible to the targeted population–in this case, students.
This discussion gets tricky when administrators are talking about youth–the ways that make information accessible and useable for people who are in an administrative age bracket can be totally different from the ways that students would choose to access this information. This becomes very important when we’re talking about things that have public health implications. The best pamphlets in the world are useless when no one reads them.
I would argue that this shows a really strong need to have (multiple!) members of your target population involved (at the very least) with discussions about information that’s targeted to them. This can be difficult. For example, undergraduate students do not typically have the public health training needed to analyze population-level effects of a marketing campaign.