Key Strengths

PVNC Key Strengths Key Takeaways

Overview

Preventing violence requires fixing social power imbalances at the deepest level – the level the Racial Equity Institute and NCCADV call the Groundwater level. The ‘groundwater’ can be understood as the overarching culture and structure of our society.

Power inequities in the groundwater determine the social context of people’ everyday lives through institutions and systems - such as education, health care, the built environment, community context, and employment. In the field of public health, these are called the social determinants of health.

These systems and institutions influence people in specific ways that can protect against violence perpetration (protective factors) or put people at risk for doing harm (risk factors). We’ve grouped these risk and protective factors into six related clusters that we call Key Strengths.

We believe that communities working to improve the Key Strengths in a coordinated way across all the social determinants of health and levels of the social ecology can function to “clean up the groundwater.” In other words, working together across systems to shift power inequities in our structures and culture can begin to address violence where it begins.

Part of the PVNC logo which shows a dark blue sprig of honeysuckle vine growing in front of a partially-constructed brick wall that is a soothing light-blue.And bolstering the Key Strengths is how.

Each Key Strength is a cluster of related risk and protective factors that are important for preventing all five of NC’s prioritized violence: Child maltreatment, domestic violence, sexual violence, suicide, and youth violence.

Strategies to bolster any of the Key Strengths can be implemented across all levels of the social ecology, but they do have different ‘home’ levels of influence. For example, Healthy Social and Emotional Development is a cluster of risk and protective factors that occur at the individual and interpersonal level, but there are strategies to strengthen them that can be implemented in communities and through social policy.

One example of a societal level intervention that strengthens the individual-level risk and protective factors is the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008. This law generally prevents health insurance plans offering mental health or substance use disorder benefits from restricting coverage for those benefits in comparison to their coverage of medical and surgical health services. Meaning, if a plan offers mental health coverage it should be comparable to coverage for medical care. The Affordable Care Act strengthened this requirement by including mental health and substance use disorder care in the ACA’s list of 10 Essential Health Benefits that most health plans must offer. Thus, access to mental health services and treatment for substance use disorders significantly increased in communities all across the country – a national level intervention improved several risk and protective factors that fall at the individual level under the key strength, Healthy Social and Emotional Development.

In the descriptions below, the 'home' sphere of influence is listed under the name of each Key Strength - but on the Strategies and Resources sections of the website you can learn more about strategies to implement at across the social ecology (click on image to see larger view).

Large thumbnail of a .pdf document, which is a table that cross-references the Key Strengths with their associated risk and protective factors across the social-ecology, and lists the related forms of violence. Please download the .pdf file for details.

Download this table as a PDF file.


Definitions of the five violence outcomes prioritized for prevention in NC


Norms Related to Gender and Power

Levels of the Social Ecology:

 Outline of a dark purple circle with white background, inside is a drawing of a building with a car driving in front of it and green pine trees in the background. This icon symbolizes the Societal Level of the Social Ecological Model, explained elsewhere on the site.SocietalOutline of a dark purple circle with white background, inside is a drawing of the silhouettes of six people clustered together.  This icon symbolizes the Community Level of the Social Ecological Model, explained elsewhere on the site.Community

Norms Related to Gender and Power

Gender is a set of social and cultural roles that are typically assigned at birth based on an infant’s external sex characteristics, such as genitalia.

Gender roles vary across cultures, and the two most common genders are woman/female and man/male, although there are many more possibilities some of which are unique to specific cultures. For example, Muxe people are a unique and valued part of the Zapotec community in Oaxaca, México.

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research note that gender “influences how people perceive themselves and each other, how they act and interact, and the distribution of power and resources in society. Gender is usually conceptualized as a binary (girl/woman and boy/man), yet there is considerable diversity in how individuals and groups understand, experience, and express it.” This Map of Gender Diverse Cultures has more information about the history of gender diversity around the globe.

The culturally-specific rules and expectations for behavior and self-expression associated with these social roles known as gender norms. Sometimes norms are explicit and formal – often, these are clearly taught by authority figures as “what people should do.” But there is another type of social norm that is subtle, informal – yet very influential, which can be understood as “the way the world is.” Both are important to address when implementing strategies under this Key Strength.

For more resources on Norms Related to Gender and Power, visit our Resources section.


Economic Stability and Opportunity

Levels of the Social Ecology:

Outline of a dark purple circle with white background, inside is a drawing of a building with a car driving in front of it and green pine trees in the background. This icon symbolizes the Societal Level of the Social Ecological Model, explained elsewhere on the site.SocietalOutline of a dark purple circle with white background, inside is a drawing of the silhouettes of six people clustered together.  This icon symbolizes the Community Level of the Social Ecological Model, explained elsewhere on the site.Community

Economic Stability and Opportunity

Economic Stability and Opportunity can be understood as having enough material resources to provide for your, and your family’s basic needs, and ample, viable opportunities to improve your economic status.

In terms of employment, it is having a steady job that pays a living wage or better, and ample opportunity in your neighborhood for everyone who needs such a job to obtain one.

For more resources on Economic Stability and Opportunity, visit our Resources section.


Community Connectedness

Levels of the Social Ecology:

Outline of a dark purple circle with white background, inside is a drawing of the silhouettes of six people clustered together.  This icon symbolizes the Community Level of the Social Ecological Model, explained elsewhere on the site.Community

Community Connectedness

Community Connectedness describes the strength and quality of social ties between members of a community and is a protective factor for all five forms of violence prioritized for prevention in NC.

One key component of Community Connectedness is collective efficacy.

Collective efficacy is a two-part concept that can be described as a willingness to intervene on behalf of the common good, plus a group-level “I think I can” – or rather, “we think we can.”

For more resources on Community Connectedness, visit our Resources section.


Positive School Climate and Connectedness

Levels of the Social Ecology:

 Outline of a dark purple circle with white background, inside is a drawing of the silhouettes of six people clustered together.  This icon symbolizes the Community Level of the Social Ecological Model, explained elsewhere on the site.CommunityOutline of a dark purple circle with white background, inside is a drawing of the silhouettes of two people standing together. This icon symbolizes the Interpersonal Level of the Social Ecological Model, explained elsewhere on the site.Interpersonal

School Climate and Connectedness

School climate is the “quality and character of school life.” 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.

For more resources on School Climate and Connectedness, visit our Resources section.


Parent-Child Connectedness

Levels of the Social Ecology:

Outline of a dark purple circle with white background, inside is a drawing of the silhouettes of two people standing together. This icon symbolizes the Interpersonal Level of the Social Ecological Model, explained elsewhere on the site.InterpersonalOutline of a dark purple circle with white background, inside is a line-drawing of silouette of a person standing inside the circle. This icon symbolizes the Individual Level of the Social Ecological Model, explained elsewhere on the site.Individual

Parent Child Connectedness

According to researchers with ETR Associates, Parent-Child Connectedness “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 Parent-Child Connectedness is high in a family, the “emotional climate is one of affection, warmth, satisfaction, trust, and […] cohesion.” Although most of the available research deals with connections between parent and child, it is likely that the findings hold true for non-parental primary caregivers, such as grandparents who are raising their grandchildren.

For more resources on Parent-Child Connectedness, visit our Resources section.


Healthy Social and Emotional Development

Levels of the Social Ecology:

 Outline of a dark purple circle with white background, inside is a drawing of the silhouettes of two people standing together. This icon symbolizes the Interpersonal Level of the Social Ecological Model, explained elsewhere on the site.InterpersonalOutline of a dark purple circle with white background, inside is a line-drawing of silouette of a person standing inside the circle. This icon symbolizes the Individual Level of the Social Ecological Model, explained elsewhere on the site.Individual

Healthy Social and Emotional Development

The foundations of social, emotional, and behavioral health form in early infancy, and grow throughout adolescence. The Zero to Three: National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families describes social-emotional competence as “the developing capacity to experience and regulate emotions, form secure relationships, and explore and learn—all in the context of a child's family, community and cultural background.”

As children age, social emotional competence evolves to include self-confidence, motivation, and impulse control. Empathy, or the ability to identify and share the emotions of another person, also emerges in infancy. Empathy is affected by parental warmth, attachment, and emotional guidance. In addition to being crucial elements of violence prevention, these factors are essential to school readiness and healthy relationships.

For more resources on Healthy Social and Emotional Development, visit our Resources section.