Publication - Research and analysis

Preventing violence against women and girls - what works: effective investments summary

This paper, aimed towards policy and practitioners, presents high quality and robust international evidence on what works to prevent violence against women and girls (VAWG) before it happens. This paper accompanies What Works to Prevent Violence Against Women and Girls: evidence summary.

Preventing violence against women and girls - what works: effective investments summary


1. See the full list of effectiveness classifications in Annex C of the What Works to Prevent Violence Against Women and Girls: A Summary of the Evidence report, accessible here.

2. The full report can be accessed here; a standalone paper summarising the key findings of this report can be found here.

3. For a similar approach to assessing available evidence on violence prevention, see Fulu et al. (2014) report on What Works to Prevent Violence Against Women and Girls.

4. The WHO (2019) framework RESPECT Women: Preventing Violence Against Womenhighlighted seven areas to be addressed to prevent (and reduce) violence against women. For the purposes of this report, these areas have been identified as relevant to prevention within a high income country context (such as Scotland).

5. The explicit focus on these types of VAWG reflects the specific nature of the violence, and the limited evidence available on prevention-focused interventions that look at preventing HBV or FGM as an explicit outcome.However, as signposted to, other interventions presented within this report seek to change social attitudes and behaviours with the aim of preventing various forms of VAWG.

6. Research indicates that BME victims may experience a longer wait than white domestic abuse victims (Femi-Ajao 2020).

7. The Domestic Abuse Scotland Act (2018) extends to cover coercive and controlling behaviours as a form of domestic abuse. Of the primary interventions presented below, those that focus on attitudinal and/or behavioural change relating to VAWG with younger people may have an impact in preventing coercive and controlling behaviours. However, the evidence linked to this explicit outcome is limited and could be explored further.

8. While a WHO report (2012) entitled Understanding and addressing violence against women: Intimate partner violence focuses on both high and low income countries, many of the interventions cited have been identified in relation to high income countries.

9. Referred to as intimate partner violence (IPV) within the WHO report, DA is the tem used within this publication.

10. Graham et al. (2019) note that there is limited evidence available on what works with regards to programmes and interventions targeted at men and boys.

11. Awareness raising campaigns are discussed in section 17 and are classified as 'inconclusive' due to limited evidence on violence-related outcomes.

12. While this data refers to both genders, the SCJS reports that women were more likely than men to experience partner abuse since the age of 16 (18.5 per cent) compared to men (9.2 per cent).

13. The SCJS partner abuse figures combine data collected from 2016/17 and 2017/18 survey years. This is referred to as 2016/18, and the data can be found within the SCJS data tables. For more information on the SCJS partner abuse figures, see the 2017/18 SCJS main findings report.

14. See also COSLA (2020) Coronavirus (COVID-19) Supplementary National Violence Against Women Guidance

15. For more information see Scottish Government (2020) 'Domestic abuse and other forms of violence against women and girls (VAWG) during COVID-19 lockdown for the period 30/3/20 - 22/05/20'

16. While not directly linked to prevention interventions, it is important to note the broader context of barriers to support women who have experienced a form of GBV.

17. Children aged 11-14 years old

18. These temporary building-based restraining orders are also known as Respecting Boundaries Agreement (RBA), (Taylor et al., 2012). Details can be found in Stein (2010:10) Shifting Boundaries: Lessons on Relationships for Students in Middle School.

19. These examined outcomes refer to peer physical, sexual, sexual harassment victimisation or perpetration, also looking at these in a date context.

20. Children aged 11-12

21. A bystander is "somebody who observes an act of violence, discrimination or other unacceptable or offensive behaviour" (Powell, 2011:8). A bystander can therefore be a stranger, friend, classmate, team-mate, colleague, relative etc. Bystander approaches aim to encourage 'active' or 'prosocial' bystanders to intervene in response to violence incidents (Powell, 2011).

22. These behaviours are centred on bystanders actively intervening to prevent or end violent behaviours among peers.

23. Berkowitz, A.D. (2009). Response Ability: A complete guide to bystander intervention. Chicago: Beck & Company.

24. Peer mentors are individuals who are "older or more senior from the same peer group" as the mentees (Williams and Neville, 2017:4)

25. 'Prototypical group norms' refers to those that the researchers would expect to see and/or had observed within this social environment.

26. Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) is being implemented in Scottish schools, and some evaluations have been carried out to date. Moreover, in Scotland, the Violence Reduction Unit are also part-funding a PhD examining the effectiveness of MVP in a Scottish context, which will enhance the existing evidence base. Results from this PhD research are expected in late 2020.

27. As of December 2019, more than 2600 senior pupils are trained as mentors, with the mentors going on to deliver around 3500 lessons a year (Education Scotland, 2019).

28. This programme does not foreground gender inequality; instead it adopts a gender-neutral approach through the use of terms such as power-based violence (Anitha and Lewis, 2018; Katz et al. 2011). The theoretical underpinnings of this approach – through which violence is seen as power-based, rather than gender-based – is a distinguishing feature from other bystander programmes (e.g. MVP).

29. UN women's (2015: 33) A framework to underpin action to prevent violence against women also highlights that: "There is emerging evidence that interventions that work with both men and women are more effective than single sex interventions (Fulu et al., 2014). As well as having better prospects for change this can help to prevent potential backlash from men that could otherwise occur".

30. Family Violence Information Disclosure Scheme (FVIDS) in New Zealand, based on UK initiatives. There are currently no evaluations of this scheme available.

31. This refers to the criteria used to identify 'adults at risk' based on the Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act 2007.

32. Police Scotland has a statutory power under Section 32, Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012 to disclose information where it is necessary to prevent and detect crime. It is on this statutory power that the authority of Police Scotland to disclose information under the DSDAS rests. The basis for disclosure of information is recorded within the DSDAS process. The risk assessment and decision making record gives clear justification for every disclosure, as underpinned by existing legislation.

33. A personal safety plan refers to the plan that a victim/survivor of domestic abuse creates in advance, thinking about how they might respond to different situations (including crisis situations) (see Women's Aid, no date).

34. According to this report, 'pressing need‟ is one of the criteria the decision-making forum must use to justify the decision to make a disclosure.

35. Page 19 of this report details the approach of practitioners; through their consideration of 'pressing need' on a "case-by-case basis and used their professional judgement to assess the 'pressing need' for disclosure".

36. See also a forthcoming Scottish Government report (written by the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit) on What Works to Prevent Youth Violence. This report on preventing VAWG and the forthcoming report on preventing youth violence are part of a linked series of reports on violence as part of the Scottish Government's violence research programme.

37. There are overlaps between youth violence prevention (primary) interventions and those aimed at preventing VAWG. For more information, see a forthcoming Scottish Government report (written by the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit) on What Works to Prevent Youth Violence.

38. De Koker et al. (2014:12) also suggest that further research is required to determine whether "a gender neutral approach works better than a focused approach targeting males and females separately".

39. The Fourth R programme takes a gender-specific approach to dating violence by emphasizing gender-specific patterns and factors and matching activities accordingly; therefore, the curriculum content is slightly different for boys and girls.

40. Randomised control trial.

41. Adolescents aged approximately 13-15 years old.

42. US eighth and ninth grade students; aged approximately 13-15 years old.

43. See Vladutiu, Catherine J, Martin, Sandra L & Macy, Rebecca J, 2010. College- or University-Based Sexual Assault Prevention Programs: A Review of Program Outcomes, Characteristics, and Recommendations. Trauma, violence & abuse, 12(2), pp.67–86 for more details

44. See also the Equally Safe delivery plan: year two update report (2019) for additional details on Equally Safe in higher education settings.

45. This project was based in secondary school settings and youth settings (Rape Crisis Scotland online, no date). See also section above on school-based programmes promoting equal relationships; the interventions presented there share similarities with this intervention (i.e. education as a prevention strategy).

46. An evaluation of Equally Safe at School is currently being carried out across a 21-month period between 2019 and 2020 by academics at The University of Glasgow.

47. More information on what these components involve can be found at Rape Crisis Scotland online (no date).

48. FM refers to Forced Marriage.

49. MARACs have been identified as out of scope within this report. However, further information is available in Annex E of the main report, accessible here.

50. Again, the focus on low-income countries within this research may limit how comparable it is with high income countries such as Scotland.