Prevent Violence NC is a cooperative effort by five statewide agencies to encourage coordinated violence prevention initiatives across North Carolina.
Here you’ll find the latest research and resources to help build key community, family, and individual strengths to prevent violence and promote health.

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Why Focus on Risk and Protective Factors

icon riskWhy does violence occur? How do we keep it from happening? Risk and protective factors can help us answer these two critical questions.  Read more...

Support and Programs Near You

icon supportAcross North Carolina, there are numerous examples of innovative programs working to end violence and support survivors. Read more...

You Can Help Prevent Violence NC

icon helpWhether you are looking to expand your current prevention program, start a new one, or join efforts with others, there are many resources and tools to help. Read more...

The term violence prevention means many things. It can refer to preventing people from becoming victims of violence. It can refer to preventing people from becoming perpetrators of violence. Both of these forms of prevention can take place before the first incident ever occurs (primary prevention) or they can take place later, to prevent violence from occurring again and to mitigate the immediate and long-term effects of violence (secondary and tertiary prevention).

The goal of Prevent Violence NC is to prevent first-time perpetration of violence. The selected strategies are centered on ensuring people do not become violent, by fostering individual, family, community, and societal supports and positive norms - what we call Key Strengths

PRIMARY Prevention of Violence

Primary prevention is prevention of first-time perpetration or victimization. The strategies featured on Prevent Violence NC are designed to prevent first-time perpetration.

Strategies to prevent first-time victimization include things like recognizing and avoiding risk. Though these strategies may be considered part of a broader approach to violence prevention, we choose not to highlight them for several reasons, including:

  • they place responsiblity for preventing violence on the shoulders of the individuals victimized by it
  • they do little to prevent someone who has not been reached by the prevention strategy from being victimized
  • they tend to emphasize actions individuals can or should take to avoid violence, rather than addressing its root causes; the result of this approach is less sustainable and more limited in reach, failing to impact the systems, attitudes, and norms that allow violence to persist


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Employment Stability and Economic Opportunity

Limited community economic opportunities and a high unemployment rate are risk factors for all five of NC’s prioritized violence outcomes. What’s more, stable employment, at the individual level, may play an important role in reducing the economic-related, family and relationship stress believed to predicate some forms of violence against children and intimate partners. Diminished economic opportunities and high unemployment not only reduce the potential for individual stable employment, but are also linked to greater community disorganization and lower social cohesion and trust. Researchers at Duke University have also linked community economic downturns to youth educational achievement and youth suicidal ideation and attempts.

Strategies to increase employment stability and opportunities vary widely. They range from sector-specific job training and literacy programs to tax policy to encourage job growth to enhanced family leave policies and public-private partnerships. They also encompass procedures and policies designed to increase access to higher education, which in turn prepares individuals for more stable employment.

At every step in the process of developing and implementing a strategy to increase employment stability and economic opportunity it is critical to assess whether the program will reinforce existing health disparities. Programs that specifically seek to support opportunity among disproportionately affected or marginalized groups should be prioritized.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Suicide Prevention Resource Center, U.S. DHHS Administration on Children, Youth, and Families, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention



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Positive School Climate and School Connectedness

School climate is the “quality and character of school life.” (Cohen, J., McCabe, E.M., Michelli, N.M., & Pickerall, T. (2009). School Climate: Research, Policy, Practice, and Teacher Education. Teachers College Record, 111(1), 180-213.) It is the sum of the values, norms, expectations, and spaces that shape the social and physical environment of a school, making it a place that may feel safe and welcoming or hostile and intimidating. School connectedness exists when children feel engaged with their school and cared for by school personnel. School climate and connectedness can be mutually reinforcing.

Together, school climate and connectedness are associated with sexual violence, youth violence, bullying, suicide, and, in some cases, teen dating violence. They are also tied to academic achievement, school attendance, and health risk behaviors such as alcohol, drug use, and early sexual initiation.

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Programs and policies to improve school climate and school connectedness
usually take place in the school, but can involve the community more broadly, as is the approach of organizations like Communities in Schools. Strategies can focus more narrowly on individual students’ feelings of commitment to school, as well, by engaging families and other supportive adults in efforts to boost a child’s enthusiasm for school and willingness to discuss issues they may encounter while at school.


Resources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National School Climate Center, National Association of School Psychologists


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Community Connectedness

Community connectedness describes the strength and quality of ties between members of a community.
Community connectedness protects against all of NC’s five prioritized forms of violence. One key component of community connectedness is collective efficacy: the cohesion between members of a community and their willingness to intervene on behalf of the common good. Higher levels of collective efficacy are associated with lower rates of youth violence, child maltreatment, and intimate partner violence. Social capital, another directly related concept, has been linked to intimate partner violence and child maltreatment, as well as chronic disease, infectious disease, income inequality, and a host of other health concerns.

Initiatives to increase community connectedness and related concepts like collective efficacy and social capital are varied. They include community-based after-school programs, community gardens, community art and social centers, and community health worker programs. In general, they seek to foster trust, commitment, and solidarity among members of a community, and promote community assets.


Resources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Suicide Prevention Resource Center, U.S. DHHS Administration on Children, Youth, and Families, NC Institute of Medicine, The Community Guide




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Parent-Child Connectedness


According to researchers with ETR Associates, Parent-Child Connectedness (PCC) “is characterized by the quality of the emotional bond between parent and child and by the degree to which this bond is both mutual and sustained over time. When PCC is high in a family, the “emotional climate” is one of affection, warmth, satisfaction, trust, and minimal conflict. Parents and children who share a high degree of connectedness enjoy spending time together, communicate freely and openly, support and respect one another, share similar values, and have a sense of optimism about the future.” Although most of the literature speaks to connections between parent and child, it is probable that the findings hold true for primary custodians who are not the child's parents, such as grandparents who are raising their grandchildren.

Parent-child connectedness has been linked in the research literature to over two dozen adolescent health and wellbeing outcomes, leading some to consider it a “super-protector.” The absence of parent-child connectedness has been found to be a risk factor for all five of NC’s prioritized violence outcomes, in addition to bullying and teen dating violence.

Most initiatives to support parent-child connectedness are education or counseling programs conducted directly with parents and children. Some proposed strategies look more broadly at policies to facilitate stronger parent-child positive bonds, such as policies to increase the amount of time working parents have available to spend with their children.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,, Resource Center for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention (ReCAPP), ChildTrends, Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, NC Institute of Medicine


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