Step 3: Identifying factors for change

The third step is to identify what risks you can reduce, and what protections you can strengthen, for the violence you want to prevent. Identify the factors you can influence through your interventions.

There is no single risk factor that explains why some individuals use violence, or why violence is more prevalent in some contexts than others, but because many forms of violence can be linked to destructive norms of masculinity, it is important that your work has a gender perspective. 

The causes of violence lie in complex relationships between risk factors in individuals, in relationships and in different living, social and cultural contexts:

  • The individual level consists of an individual's biological and psychological conditions, personal history, socio-economic status, gender and age.
  • The relationship level involves relationships with family members, friends and partners, and how relationships can protect from or expose people to violence.
  • The community level consists of a neighbourhood, or a specific context in which personal relationships are formed, such as schools, workplaces or residential areas.
  • The societal level is our society at large and involves social and cultural norms and conditions.

Socio-ecological model captures problems as well as prevention

The socio-ecological model is based on a combination of biological, social, cultural, economic, and political aspects that influence the risk of violence or exposure to violence. It is used to identify factors that increase the risk of violence, as well as to prevent these risks. Because risk factors are so closely intertwined, prevention interventions must work at different levels simultaneously, or must be able to be implemented in parallel at different levels.

You have a lot to gain by deepening your knowledge of the relationship between violence and masculinity.

In Sweden, 80% of those suspected of crimes against the person in 2021 were men. This is particularly the case for rape and sexual assault, where respectively 98% and 97% of suspects were men. Inequality and limited gender norms are proven risk factors for men's violence. Risk factors linked to norms of masculinity and power relations recur at all levels of the socio-ecological model, so you have much to gain by deepening your knowledge of the relationship between violence and masculinity.

Preventing men's and boys' violence against girls and women with interventions that take a critical approach to how masculinity and femininity are constructed–a so-called gender transformative approach–is more effective in bringing about behavioural change than interventions that lack such an approach. Once you have summarised your analysis of the risk and protective factors that affect the violence you want to prevent, and identified factors you can influence, you should feed this back and anchor it with those involved in the work.

Checklist for step 3

1. What are the proven risk and protective factors for the violence you want to prevent?

2. Which of these risk and protective factors are changeable and can be influenced by your violence prevention work?

3. Can you use experiential knowledge of violence as a problem to identify factors for change?

4. Have you learned about the relationship between violence and gender, as well as about gender, bystanders and role models?

5. Have you used this knowledge to identify factors for change in your violence prevention work?

6. Have you reversed and modified your analysis of change factors that can form the basis of your violence prevention efforts?

Continue to Step 4

Violence prevention work

Publication date: 2 January 2023

Last updated: 3 January 2023