Preventing Sexual Violence

Key points

  • Sexual violence is a serious problem that can have lasting, harmful effects on victims and their family, friends, and communities.
  • CDC’s goal is to stop sexual violence from happening in the first place.


In order to prevent sexual violence, we must understand and address risk and protective factors at the individual, relational, community, and societal levels.

CDC developed the Sexual Violence Prevention Resource for Action to help communities take advantage of the best available evidence to prevent sexual violence. This resource is also available in Spanish. Many of the prevention strategies focus on reducing the likelihood that a person will engage in sexual violence.


The prevention strategies and their corresponding approaches are listed in the table below.

Strategy Approach
Promote social norms that protect against violence.
  • Bystander approaches.
  • Mobilizing men and boys as allies.
Teach skills to prevent sexual violence.
  • Social-emotional learning.
  • Teaching healthy, safe dating and intimate relationship skills to adolescents.
  • Promoting healthy sexuality.
  • Empowerment-based training.
Provide opportunities to empower and support girls and women.
  • Strengthening economic supports for women and families.
  • Strengthening leadership and opportunities for girls.
Create protective environments.
  • Improving safety and monitoring in schools.
  • Establishing and consistently applying workplace policies.
  • Addressing community-level risks through environmental approaches.
Support victims/survivors to lessen harms.
  • Victim-centered services.
  • Treatment for victims of sexual violence.
  • Treatment for at-risk children and families to prevent problem behavior including sex offending.


Below are some examples of programs described in the Sexual Violence Prevention Resource for Action.

  • Safe Dates: Program designed to prevent the initiation of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse in adolescent dating relationships.
  • Shifting Boundaries: Program designed to reduce dating violence and sexual harassment among adolescents.
  • Green Dot: Bystander-based prevention program designed to reduce sexual and other forms of interpersonal violence perpetration and victimization.
  • Second Step: Student Success Through Prevention (SS: SSTP): School-based program aimed at reducing bullying, peer victimization, and other problem behaviors.
  • Coaching Boys Into Men: Dating violence prevention program that uses the relationships between high school athletes and their coaches to change social norms and behaviors.
  • Bringing in the Bystander: Bringing in the Bystander is a bystander education and training program designed for male and female college students.