Effective Prevention Strategies and Theories - PAAR
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Prevention Approach

The Prevention Services Team develops and delivers programs throughout Allegheny County while also partnering with communities to building capacity to prevent sexual violence and abuse.

PAAR combines research and evidence-based theories of change with practice-based experience to create dynamic programming impacting the local community and resulting in social change.  PAAR uses the following principles to inform and guide our prevention strategies and approaches:

  • Take risks and be innovative
  • Be relational
  • Recognize the ongoing nature of social change promotion
  • Focus on health promotion, healthy relationships, healthy sexuality, sexual development
  • Be inclusive
  • Partner with communities
  • Remember it is the responsibility of adults to end child sexual abuse
  • Celebrate and benchmark progress


We’ve all been there.

Eating at a restaurant, talking at a party, spending time with friends, enjoying a family holiday or eating lunch at work.

Slowly we begin to feel uncomfortable.  We try to act like we didn’t hear, we turn slightly away, we may laugh or try to change the subject.

As people we have all heard comments that made us uncomfortable, offended us; maybe even comments we knew were simply mean-spirited and wrong.

We may have heard threats or harsh words to a child in a store, sexual comments and observations about a woman or a man, racial slurs or homophobic statements.

What did we do?  Did we speak up?  Or did we pretend we didn’t hear, turn away and try to change the subject?

PAAR’s mission encompasses preventing sexual violence.  We all need to be engaged and speak up to help prevent sexual violence.

Let’s all make a pledge to change.  Instead of pretending we didn’t hear, offer another perspective or share an experience which contradicts the stereotype being endorsed.  Or simply express your discomfort with the comment.  Also remember, this doesn’t always have to be done in the moment.  If you can’t engage in the moment, take time later to talk with the individual who made the comment and share your feelings.

Let’s stop pretending, stop turning away, stop laughing and stop changing the subject.

Let’s start being real, start being engaged with others, start taking sexism, sexual harassment and sexual violence seriously and start talking about how to stop sexual violence and promote safety and respect.

We can all start today.  Start thinking about what you’ll say next time you hear a sexist comment or victim blaming statement or comment tolerating sexual harassment or sexual violence.

It may be uncomfortable and scary in the beginning but people will step up and support interventions.   Maybe they didn’t know the words to say.  Let’s start using the words aloud and sharing the words with one so together we can work to prevent sexual violence in our society.

Prevention Programs

Prevention on college campuses

PAAR’s prevention approach on campuses is to reduce risk factors and promote protective factors. Our comprehensive prevention strategies address factors at each of the levels that influence sexual violence—individual, relationship, community, and society.

PAAR recommends that campuses collaborate to provide:

  • Prevention programs for all incoming students.
  • Train campus law enforcement or security staff to effectively respond to these crimes.
  • Educate campus judicial or disciplinary boards on the unique dynamics of these crimes.
  • Create a coordinated community response to enhance victim assistance and safety while holding offenders accountable.


Request a Program or Training

Essential Components of programming include:


  • Would you want your partner to use force or pressure for sexual activity?  Would you use force or pressure?

Consent is to:

give assent or approval; agree – voluntary agreement in action or opinion

Consent is:

  • Based on choice
  • Actively given
  • Asked for
  • Given by both people

Consent Isn’t:

  • Silence
  • Forced and/or coerced
  • Giving in out of guilt, fear, or manipulation
  • Assumed just because you are in a relationship

Think about the messages you heard about sex, sexual activity and sexuality growing up.  How would you define those messages?

  • Bad, or shameful or embarrassing.
  • Good, healthy and natural.
  • Silence or no messages.
  • Other or none of the above.

The messages we received growing up impact our thoughts, values and behaviors.  Those messages can also make it uncomfortable and difficult to communicate about consent for sexual activity.  It is important to think about how the messages you received may impact your actions and your ability to communicate about consent.  Communication about consent and sexual activity is an essential part of a healthy and safe relationship.  We can improve communication by thinking about and defining our own limits and boundaries.

How do you know a date is going well?

  • You make eye contact
  • You laugh and smile
  • You have common interests
  • You talk to each other
  • You touch or hold hands
  • You ask to kiss goodnight and the answer is “YES!”
  • You talk about going out again soon

It is important to remember that a good date does not equal sexual activity.  A good date is a good date.  Consent for sexual activity through communication is consent for sexual activity.  A good date is not consent for sexual activity.  Consent happens through communication.

You must ask and talk about consent and boundaries.