To solve a complex issue like domestic violence, we need to re-think where we focus our attention. Over the past 30 to 40 years, tremendous strides in domestic violence protection and intervention have been made, yet efforts to ‘go upstream’ and put into place long-term, comprehensive primary prevention strategies has not been a priority.
Shift was created to lead this charge and advance a primary prevention agenda in Alberta. Primary prevention explicitly focuses on actions before the condition of concern develops. In the area of domestic violence, it means reducing the number of new instances of violence by intervening before any violence has occurred (World Health Organization, 2007). Interventions can be delivered to the whole population or to particular groups that are at high risk of using or experiencing violence in the future. Examples include whole-school approaches to violence prevention and building healthy relationships skills and environments, home visitation programs that target first-time moms and parents, and social marketing campaigns that encourage bystanders to step in to stop the violence.
The purpose of Shift is to work with and enhance the capacity of policy makers, system leaders, clinicians, service providers and the community at large, to significantly reduce the rates of domestic violence in Alberta. We are committed to making our research accessible and working collaboratively with a diverse range of stakeholders, to inform and influence current and future domestic violence prevention efforts, through the perspective of primary prevention.
Our research program was initiated to explore the issue of domestic violence and its root causes and identify primary prevention strategies and programs from around the globe that demonstrate evidence. What we discovered is that although domestic violence is complex and pervasive, it is also preventable. There are evidence-based programs and policies that can stop domestic violence from happening in the first place.
"To reduce the rates of domestic violence in Alberta, we need to focus 'upstream' to prevent violence from happening in the first place," Lana Wells