Rape Prevention and Education: Transforming Communities to Prevent Sexual Violence

What is CDC’s Rape Prevention and Education (RPE) program?

The RPE program provides funding to state health departments in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands. RPE recipients work collaboratively with diverse stakeholders, including state sexual violence coalitions, educational institutions, rape crisis centers, community organizations and other state agency partners to guide implementation of their state sexual violence prevention efforts.

What guides the work of the RPE program?

Primary prevention—stopping sexual violence before it begins—is the cornerstone of the RPE program. Program activities are guided by a set of principles that include:

  • Preventing first-time occurrence of sexual violence;
  • Reducing risk factors and enhancing protective factors linked to sexual violence perpetration and victimization;
  • Using the best available evidence when planning, implementing, and evaluating prevention programs;
  • Incorporating behavior and social change theories into prevention programs so that behavior patterns, cultural values, and norms contributing to sexual violence will change over time;
  • Analyzing state and community data, such as health and safety data, to inform program decisions and monitor trends; and
  • Evaluating prevention efforts and using the results to improve future program plans.
Diverse hands around piece of paper with the phrase equality and respect equal healthy relationships.

What are the current activities of the RPE program?

The RPE program encourages the development of comprehensive prevention strategies using a public health approach. This includes a continuum of activities to address the way individual, relationship, community and societal factors impact sexual violence.

This approach is more likely to prevent sexual violence across a lifetime than any single intervention and is also more likely to benefit the largest number of people and reduce sexual violence.

RPE recipients are currently engaged in a range of activities, including:

  • Delivering school-based primary prevention programs that educate youth on healthy relationships;
  • Training students from middle school to college to intervene when they see someone engaging in unhealthy behaviors;
  • Working with communities to implement social norms approaches to promote safe, stable, and nurturing relationships and environments;
  • Strengthening the ability of states and communities to plan, implement, and evaluate their sexual violence prevention efforts;
  • Using CDC’s STOP SV: A Technical Package to Prevent Sexual Violence Cdc-pdf[2.85MB, 48Pages, 508] to implement evidence-based strategies and approaches in their communities.

Additionally, states are working to strengthen their ability to collect program evaluation data about their sexual violence prevention strategies and use that data to improve their work. Ultimately, the innovative work of RPE programs will contribute further to our knowledge, understanding and practice to prevent sexual violence.

What is CDC’s role in preventing sexual violence?

As our nation’s health protection agency, CDC provides leadership to keep America safe and healthy and to save lives and resources through prevention. CDC’s role in sexual violence prevention is unique because no other federal agency is working to prevent sexual violence perpetration and victimization before it begins. This means promoting comprehensive approaches to address the factors that contribute to risk for sexual violence and fostering the factors that protect against sexual violence.

Evidence about what works to prevent sexual violence is growing, and CDC’s Injury Center is providing tools, training and technical assistance to RPE programs to promote use of the most current evidence of effectiveness to inform their efforts.

CDC’s goal is to reduce the burden of sexual violence in our communities and society.

How was the RPE program established?

The Violence Against Women Act, passed by Congress in 1994 and most recently reauthorized in 2013, established the Rape Prevention and Education (RPE) program at CDC. The RPE program seeks to develop and strengthen sexual violence prevention efforts at the local, state, and national level.

What are some other CDC resources and publications?

Page last reviewed: March 1, 2018