Strengths-Based Prevention Programs Done Right With Drs. Sherry Hamby And Victoria Banyard – Episode 137

LFL 137 | Strengths Based Prevention

 

The world is a crazy place right now, with the pandemic and violence. People really need to find ways to prevent these issues from rising. This is where the book, Strengths-Based Prevention comes in handy. Join Patrick Veroneau as he talks to the authors of Strengths-Based Prevention, Dr. Sherry Hamby and Dr. Victoria Banyard. Sherry is a research professor of psychology at the University of the South. She is also the Director of Life Paths Research Center. Victoria is a professor in the School of Social Work at Rutgers. Learn more about their book and why the prevention of drug abuse, suicide, and sexual abuse is tougher than you think. Sometimes those prevention programs can actually cause more harm than good. Understand how prevention programs should really run in today’s episode.

Listen to the podcast here:

Strengths-Based Prevention Programs Done Right With Drs. Sherry Hamby And Victoria Banyard

Thank you for joining me. In this episode, I have two guests. They are coauthors in a book called Strengths-Based Prevention: Reducing Violence and Other Public Health Problems. This book was published in November of 2021. The first author is Dr. Vicki Banyard. She is a Professor in the School of Social Work at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. The second author is Dr. Sherry Hamby, who is a Research Professor of Psychology at the University of the South. She is also the Director of Life Paths Research Center. Dr. Hamby’s work has appeared in publications like The New York Times, USA Today, CBS News, and hundreds of other media outlets.

The conversation that we had around their book looks at prevention that focuses on building assets and resources. It draws on so many different disciplines to help with prevention and preventing things violence, drug abuse, suicide or risky sexual behavior. We also talk about the prevention or uptake of vaccines. If you are interested at all regarding prevention, this is a proactive approach to how do we draw on the research and theories that are out there from a variety of different disciplines to reduce violence and other public health problems. Let’s get into it.

Vicki and Sherry, thank you again for being on the show. This to me is such a fitting time to talk about your new book, congratulations on that, Strengths-Based Prevention: Reducing Violence and Other Public Health Problems. What was the driver for you in terms of this approach to prevention?

We talk about some of our own prevention stories in the book. It comes from when I was of an age for being exposed to prevention. In fact, the story for me was more of the absence of prevention, which is there weren’t a lot of these kinds of prevention messages in the public school that I went to. There might have been some conversations at home but there wasn’t very much of it. To become a prevention researcher and reflect on the absence of those conversations made me interested in studying prevention but also in thinking about strengths.

The more I have spent time with college students and in my research with adolescents in middle and high schools realizing that prevention is not always the first thing people want to sign up to do. Having taught some of those early prevention programs where it was hard to get the butts in seats starting to think about, “How can we do this differently because I don’t think what we are doing is working?”

I would pick up on the last piece that Vicki said is, we invest a fairly good chunk of money, teacher time, and other resources into prevention. When you read the literature, it’s quite discouraging what the outcome effects for almost all of that are. Things that it seems like would be a no-brainer, like who wants to become addicted to drugs? This doesn’t seem like that’s a big population pushing on the other side going, “Yes for opioids.”

At the same time, despite our prevention efforts, to take that as one example, the drug crisis is worse than ever. In 2021, we broke a record with fatal opioid overdoses. We are motivated by our desire to help people reset and feel like there’s a lot of information out there and other fields that if we brought that into prevention, we could provide some guidance about what a reset might look like.

To me, that is so fascinating, too. As I was reading in the book, you mentioned things like D.A.R.E. that clearly is one of those programs that probably hasn’t been as successful as many people thought. Going in the opposite direction, I think of “Say No To Drugs.” That campaign or the commercials that were out there about the person that put the egg in the frying pan and said, “This is your brain on drugs.” Those things you would have thought would have made a difference but in fact, there’s evidence that would suggest that those probably did more harm at times than good. In terms of drug abuse, in Maine where I am, in 2021, there was a 30% increase in overdoses.

LFL 137 | Strengths Based Prevention

Strengths Based Prevention: Knowledge transfer doesn’t work. If you didn’t know how a bong worked, you’d say no to it. But schools keep showing anti-drug programs, so they’re lowering your obstacles unintentionally.

 

It’s huge and sad. The stress of the pandemic has taken a toll there as it has in so many other realms of our life. That’s exactly right what you are saying about the D.A.R.E. effort or the “Say No To Drugs.” I had something like that when I was in school. It was the very first time that I saw a lot of that paraphernalia. They don’t come in and say, “Don’t use drugs.” They came and spread all this paraphernalia out there. It’s like, “Here’s a bong. The weed goes in here and you put your mouth here.”

It was almost like this educational session. I knew so much more at the end of that about how to use drug paraphernalia than I had going into it as an adolescent. It’s that idea that knowledge transfer doesn’t work. Teens are worried about peer impressions and rejection. Maybe a team who didn’t know how a bong worked, if it got passed to them at a party or something like that, they would say, “No, thanks.” Try not to make a big deal of it instead of risk humiliating themselves.

These nice police officers have come in and showed us all how to do that. What they are unintentionally doing is lowering obstacles to use. There is some evidence that, at least, in some of the outcome studies students who received that program were slightly more likely to use drugs than other teens were. The Surgeon General came out and said that this isn’t a good program. One of the major psychological associations said, “We shouldn’t be doing this.” None of that has had any real impact on it because it has this brand and momentum of its own that’s almost in the total absence of the scientific evidence in support of it.

Along those lines, we talked before about confirmation bias, which raises one of these things that continues to come up. Would you say that there’s even confirmation bias there in terms of those that don’t want to admit that these programs don’t have the intended impact that they want but will look for evidence that shows that it is there and discount all the stuff that says the opposite?

I think that’s a piece of it. The intention is good that people want to be doing something. When you have something that has a lot of longevity and that people know and recognize, it does become the thing that you can default to. Sometimes resources and funding specifically state the program. It can create challenges to pivoting off of that program to something else.

Drug prevention could actually do more harm than good. It's really discouraging what the outcome effects for almost all that are. Click To Tweet

It’s hard sometimes to move away from the idea. This is something we explore a lot in the book about how some of the things that may be most useful in preventing substance use and violence may not involve talking about those things at all. It isn’t to say we don’t talk about it at all ever but we have become so focused on knowledge transmission and it’s not violence prevention if we are not talking about violence.

When in fact building strengths, a sense of belonging, mattering, purpose, these things can have a much bigger moving needle effect on reducing behaviors related to violence than talking about it. The bigger picture there as well, is a resource one because to Sherry’s point, we have spent a lot of money on prevention, not always well-spent or effective but we don’t overly spend on prevention either.

I think people become very siloed. They have to justify their lane and program so that they can be doing something. It leads to a very siloed approach that focuses on, “The reason I can say my program is special is that I’m focused on this particular thing, and this is what we talk about.” I don’t know if that makes sense.

I was thinking as I was reading this, so many things are relevant to what we are going through around vaccines. It’s the thing that kept coming into my head. I’m wondering, when did you decide to put this together? The reason I asked that is, was this pre-pandemic that this idea that both of you said, “We are going to coauthor this book?”

The idea was pre-pandemic. It’s an idea that we had been tossing back and forth for a few years now. It came out of some earlier work we had done on something called the Resilience Portfolio Model, which similarly tries to take a broader view of thinking about what helps people overcome trauma. It’s not necessarily always talk therapy or things like that being the solution. We wrote a lot of it during the pandemic.

We do have several examples in there that relate to the pandemic but we also were trying to envision a time when the pandemic will hopefully be over, so we didn’t want to make it too focused on the pandemic. In terms of vaccine uptake and all kinds of other mask-wearing and things like that, lots of prevention messages that are going out are not working that well. Some of the points in our book would apply to those.

I’m not even thinking about the vaccine portion of it but I look at some of the topics on here, talking about drug abuse, overdoses, and suicide rates. We know that those increased. As you were writing this, were you thinking like, “This is different now than prior to the pandemic in terms of how we are putting this together?”

LFL 137 | Strengths Based Prevention

Strengths Based Prevention: People get so focused on treatment and prevention that they don’t talk about what’s going well or what’s the goal. They have to know that the goal is not just the absence of a problem.

 

What we have thought about is the urgency. As Sherry mentioned earlier, part of our goal in the book is to draw together lessons learned from a lot of different fields. Something that at least has happened during the pandemic is that we are much more talking about all of those things in the same breath because the pandemic itself has elevated and worsened a lot of those things. We know that it’s worsening interpersonal violence in the home, substance use, mental health concerns and suicide.

The pandemic itself has created conversations where those areas and thinking about prevention in those areas is not only more urgent but those conversations are referring to include all of those things together, which have usually been more siloed. That is a very similar goal to what we have had in our book to say, “There are some things that interconnect all of these different issues and that we can learn to enhance prevention that might help across these public health concerns.”

Along those lines, one thing that I found interesting is the way that you break out each of these different theories or approaches to prevention and in the end saying, “What are the pros and cons to them?” It was very helpful for me to say, “It’s not to say that this is the next best thing or this is where it fits.” It’s to say, “This is where this one might be better served than this approach.”

One that stands out to me that I have always found very helpful is motivational interviewing. It’s underutilized in terms of trying to create an environment where people take responsibility. It’s not about admonition here or knowledge transfer but as I would see it, it’s more about getting people to align with making the change themselves.

I’m a huge fan of motivational interviewing. In our framework, we would think of that as something that helps with meaning-making. A lot of times if somebody might get referred or mandated to treatment for substance abuse or violence, those are some of the fields where it has been used a lot or even something like quitting cigarette smoking. Motivational interviewing is a great way to help them reconnect to their own reasons for being there. How does this connect to a larger sense of purpose and goals for your own life?

Those are all meaning-making processes. Sometimes the way we approach treatment is that we jump in and assume that work has already been done, anybody who’s seeking help for drugs, violence or whatever the case may be, already know what the reasons they are there for. Making that explicit and giving that chance to organize the therapy, help them figure out what they are motivated to do and what they are not motivated to do is a terrific evidence-based practice.

It’s shown to be helpful in so many different therapeutic problems. It’s a relatively easy thing to learn in its most common use. It’s like one session at the beginning of a treatment program. It’s a great example of something that doesn’t take a lot of resources either to make a meaningful improvement in how well any program works.

Some of the most useful things in preventing substance abuse may not involve talking about it at all. Click To Tweet

It’s an example of how we can be learning from strategies that work in other contexts and bring them forward to address a variety of issues and center the strengths. As Sherry was saying, meaning-making and part of that is the meaning-making, which is a piece of the strengths portfolio that often gets too little attention, if you will. It’s also that pivot to helping people think about strengths and helping them think about, “Choose to be here and where is it that I’m headed?”

Our focus is on prevention, treatment, and a lot of times, with good reason and urgency because the risk and the problem are writ large and it is what people are trying to deal with. We also get so focused that we don’t inquire and build in enough time to talk about what’s going well or what’s the goal toward what could be well. The goal is not the absence of a problem and a big problem in our prevention work is that we don’t have a good picture of what should it look like. What’s the presence of as opposed to, “We want this to go away?”

Along those lines, how do you address suicide? What I have read is we are seeing such an increase, especially during this timeframe. How would you use strength-based approaches in that environment?

Several things come immediately to mind and I’m sure Vicki can weigh in on this, too. Ideally, what you would do for a good suicide prevention program is that you would start well before there’s a crisis and focus on the high-risk group like adolescents, older people who have become unemployed, had some financial crisis or something like that.

If we stick with young people where maybe it’s a little easier thinking about it developmentally, a lot of people are motivated to go through difficult times and do push through periods of depression or feelings of rejection because they are connected to something larger. They have dreams about going to school or a good social support group that gives them a sense of belonging.

Prevention programs that focus on those things before there’s any crisis that you are helping kids develop a sense of meaning-making, find out what their purpose in life is and identify some goals. You could probably do a little preparation for them that you are going to go through times when you might feel low. Not hide from that or pretend that’s a rare experience because it’s not a rare experience at all. Brainstorm ways that they can work their way through that and also work on their social networks and make sure that there are good resources for them to turn to when things get tough and a broader system level. Good suicide prevention also means investing in resources.

I was at a meeting here in our local county and our school system is short of five guidance counselors in this relatively pretty small rural county. More than half of the guidance counselor positions are vacant, which has been part of the challenges around the Great Resignation and all the other things that have been happening. That systemic limitation is also not doing suicide prevention. They need to find ways to fill those positions. What they probably need to do is find funds to give market rates of pay for those positions for one thing.

LFL 137 | Strengths Based Prevention

Strengths Based Prevention: The world needs a lot of different strategies. Most people want to find one answer to everything rather than to take a more nuanced approach. One message isn’t going to work for everyone.

 

There are lots of things that you can do as like a coordinated suicide prevention approach that would be at all different levels of the social ecology. Some of it might be coaching individual young people who might think is an at-risk group but it’s also thinking at these larger system levels about what do we need to be in place so that people don’t get to the moment when they are sitting there with a bottle of pills or on the side of a bridge.

I would underscore that broader systems perspective. That’s something we talk about in a number of different sections of the book. We tend to default to the one person at a time view of prevention. Even a lot of our curriculum that I have been part of, it’s about teaching this one person or this other person and they can think differently. That interconnected we and that broader community set of resources for, not only being available to somebody when they are getting into a difficult place but even beforehand.

To have the resources in school, the after-school programs, the music programs, the sports programs that are free, and the resource neighborhoods. Prevention is ultimately a social justice enterprise. We need to be thinking about that broader context because a lot of our programs fail because we are so centered on the individual and that individual is in this bigger context and we need to be attending to that.

Along those lines, especially over the last two years is that we have been so isolated. We had a difficult time with my son in 2021 through remote schooling to the point that we made the decision to basically leave the state. We went down to Florida for almost six weeks and rented a place down there. We didn’t know what to do quite honestly but felt like we needed a change of environment.

It was very restrictive up here. We said, “If we are going to be remote school, we are going to do it in a different environment.” It worked for us the change of environment but he got involved in sports when he got back and that made a huge difference to have that outlet that so many kids don’t have those outlets available to them.

That’s why we talk about prevention in terms of our portfolio so that you have lots of different assets and resources. One crisis is not going to eliminate everything that you’ve got. My son is a freshman in college in 2022. He also had a tough time with the switch to online schooling. He needed that three-dimensional environment to even keep up with his assignments and stuff. I didn’t realize how much he was relying on like, “What did you get for problem twelve in the cafeteria and stuff?” You’ve got to cue him along like, “This is what’s happening in these classes.” When he was sitting by himself in front of that computer, it all went out the window and it was very difficult.

Prevention is ultimately a social justice enterprise. Click To Tweet

I do think that getting involved in sports or even moving to Florida, a change of scenery can be healing in and of itself. We have all probably felt that on vacation but I imagine that also going to the warmer climate might have meant that he got to spend more time in the sunshine and the outdoors. Those things are also very healing. It also points back to this systemic issue because we have been dealing with the pandemic here in the United States in a way that puts a lot of the burden on our children.

We have been closing schools and pushing them into online schooling environments. There’s no question that they are not as good as in-person environments, meanwhile, we are still keeping bars, restaurants, and things open. If you sat almost anybody down and said, “If you had to close one thing, bars or schools, which one would you close in an emergency?” I don’t think that there are very many people that would be like, “I would pick the schools. Let’s keep the bars open.” If somehow, we have found ourselves in that situation anyway, our kids are bearing the burden of it.

I made that argument multiple times. The generation that is the least impacted medically from this has been asked to pay the largest emotional price for this.

You think about the developmental moments of what they are also learning in school about social relationships and all of that stuff. We know that’s very different to navigate online than it is in person.

The topic that I try and talk about less because it raises people’s emotions the highest is around vaccines. As I was reading this book, I thought many times that, “This fits.” If you talk about strengths-based prevention, I looked back on this whole process. Somebody who has been vaccinated and spends a lot of time in the space of persuasion or influence in leadership is, “We mess this thing up in terms of getting people to buy into the benefits of vaccination.” I would love your thoughts on that.

There are a lot of things related to this but one of the take-home messages for me in writing the book and being in this prevention space is that we need lots of strategies. Part of how we go awry if you will is that we want to find one answer. We want one social marketing message that we can put out on the TV. We want one thing that’s going to reach everyone, turn them around and get them to think differently about this. We know that it doesn’t work. You talk about leadership. People turn to different kinds of leaders, informal leaders in their networks, and leaders who are famous people. People resonate with different influencers.

That’s one dimension about who is the messenger. We tend to try to find one thing that’s going to address the problem rather than taking a more nuanced approach to say probably one message isn’t going to work for everyone. We also tend to focus a bit more on the risk part. There’s a study we talk about in the book that some researchers did. I’m not sure if it was specific to vaccines. It might have been related to masks but it was talking about if you use a message that’s more about, “Do this, so you can avoid death,” versus, “Do this to help your community.”

They’ve got some more positive responses for more of the positive help your community thing. It’s the testing of different messages to try to get things that will resonate with people, understanding that not everyone will resonate with the same argument. If you are using an argument that someone is not resonating with at all, saying it more forcefully, is probably going to lead them to resist more forcefully.

LFL 137 | Strengths Based Prevention

Strengths Based Prevention: Loneliness can be one of the most dangerous and toxic effects on your physical health. People who are lonely are at risk and have higher mortality rates than normal.

 

I totally agree with all of that. I would add a couple of things. If some emergency like this comes up again and as people say, it’s not unlikely that we will be better prepared, there are still a lot of obstacles to getting vaccines that are not being thought through. On one hand and certainly, compared to many other countries, we have incredible accessibility. Even here in the small, rural county where I live, you can go to any of the pharmacies or the health department.

It sounds easy but if you scratch it a little bit, it’s not as easy as it could be. For example, the closest place to me is to go to a pharmacy and that’s one of the national chain pharmacies. Also, you have to go online and make an appointment. You can’t just walk in. When you go online and make an appointment, there’s this rather long form you have to fill out. Even though my whole family has been picking up our prescriptions at this place for years and they have all of our insurance information. When I bring in a prescription or if I call on a refill, I don’t have to provide my insurance information because it’s not changed.

When I had to sign up for the vaccine, I had to go dig my insurance card out and re-enter all of that information. That assumes that you’ve got access to the internet and the computer skills to fill out those online forms. It’s not as easy as it should be. Even if you have all of that, you still have to take time out of your day and go over there during regular pharmacy hours.

As a University Professor, I have that flexibility in my work but a lot of people don’t have that flexibility, so it’s a burden for them. My youngest is in college now. I don’t have childcare issues about getting over to get a vaccine or the next day I felt some of the side effects of the vaccine. I was tired. If I had a house full of small children, it might be more problematic than it would be otherwise. We are not thinking through like, “How could we reduce those obstacles? How could we make it easier for people to walk in if they feel an impulse to go get a vaccine?”

We should let them act on that impulse. We shouldn’t be like, “Maybe in a day or two, we can fit you in.” That gives them time to think about it. We could be going to workplaces. They bring vaccine centers here to my campus but there are so many workplaces in the county where you have to somehow manage to get time off to go get a vaccine. There’s still a lot that we could be doing.

As Vicki said, we could be doing a lot more to test right away what seems to be working and what doesn’t. I saw an article earlier that a bunch of analyses had been done and all these incentive programs of giving away lottery tickets, cash prizes or whatever. It turned out that those don’t seem to have had much effect. We should be much more systematically trying different types of programs and seeing which ones are moving the needle in terms of uptake with vaccines. There are things that work. We need to find out what they are and implement them faster.

If you can get people together with some different points of view, then some new ideas can emerge from that. Click To Tweet

Along those lines, Vicki, as you were saying, as somebody that’s a nonacademic reading this book, what I enjoyed about it was that it was like a buffet of different approaches with commentary on, “This is where this might work or might not work. This is a plus to this.” To be in that space though, especially if your idea is not to have an ego involved but you think that your approach is the one that is the best approach.

There’s a lot of curiosity that has to be in play in that situation that I don’t think this is the direction that we are going to go because this is what’s going to move the needle. You are right about that. Being more open to exploring who has the right answer as opposed to, “I have the right answer,” is a huge thing.

We talk about collaboratives. We talk about how prevention is an enterprise that lots of people need to be involved with. As professionals, people who are doing this prevention work, are often super under-resourced. It’s very difficult for them to have time and they don’t get paid for spending a day sitting with other people who are doing other forms of prevention.

It’s very much, “We’ve got to go in and do something.” Stepping back and making more room for that because we also know from the psychology of groups that if you can get people together with some different points of view, then some new ideas can emerge from that. A lot of times we are so like, “Let’s put a Band-Aid on it or pick a program and go in there.”

I think about this quite often over the last few years is the isolation we have been under, has that impeded our ability to have a variety of ideas? When we are isolated, who have we generally been around? It’s the people that have been exactly like us. Not the variety of people that we would be around more often if it were at the water cooler or in a work setting. It’s not based on any research but other than my own observations around what I do is, I feel isolation has undermined so much of what we have done.

It takes a terrible toll. As you probably know, there has been quite a lot of research over the past couple of decades that loneliness can be one of the most dangerous and toxic effects on our physical health. People who are lonely have higher mortality rates. It’s a bigger risk factor than lots of other things that we are used to thinking of as risk factors like diet and exercise. All of us have been trying to navigate this with the pandemic and taking such a toll on everyone.

As we start to wrap things up here, I’m curious as both of you were in the process of co-authoring this book, is there anything that surfaced to either of you as you were going through this that was even a surprise to you?

For me, it was how a shift to thinking about strengths, which is something that I have to keep coming back to. My training in psychology was not oriented towards prevention but it also was not oriented towards strengths. I continue to be surprised and challenged in a good way by how resetting and saying, “What is the strengths-based approach?” I can find myself slipping back into the risk deficit kind of orientation.

Writing the book was a privilege because it gave more space and writing with Sherry, who has been a friend and colleague for my whole career to be able to have someone not writing this in isolation but to be able to have it be a true collaboration. Even writing a book on strengths, I still have to constantly challenge myself to be using the strengths lens and that different perspective.

It was definitely a big gift during the pandemic to be working on this with Vicki because it helped with my own meaning-making. It gave me a sense of purpose and also gave us a chance to connect regularly. In terms of surprise, I talk about this a lot in terms of how there are so many different silos, where people get into their own little specialty area, and then they don’t talk to people in other areas. Working on this book, I was surprised at how many different people are working on these same problems.

LFL 137 | Strengths Based Prevention

Strengths-Based Prevention: Reducing Violence And Other Public Health Problems By Victoria Banyard And Sherry Hamby

How many people are interested in substance abuse or suicide or things like that as an outcome, even in fields as disparate as urban planning as well as things you might think of like criminology. It was people feeling the elephant. They all have a little piece of the puzzle. It’s frustrating that there’s not a better way for people to come together. We hope with this book that we have created a resource where everyone can step back and see the whole elephant.

Along those lines, I was telling you that from a standpoint of leadership development, as I read this, I saw many components of leadership development involved in what you had put together here. It’s another piece of the elephant.

Leaders are often trying to create strengths-based environments and insulate people from different bad outcomes. These prevention messages probably aren’t used to calling it prevention but their goals would also be something that would be totally familiar to anybody working in these other fields under other names.

Back to the idea of admonishment or knowledge transfer in leadership, those oftentimes have not been effective behaviors or approaches, the same thing with this. There were a lot of crossroads.

A strengths-based prevention approach is also about training future leaders in the classic way of thinking about leaders if we think about a strengths-based approach to youth prevention. We are giving them the foundational skill that is going to enable them to be formal leaders and the way that we might define formal leadership but also informal leadership. As we talked about earlier, some of our successful prevention models are about how you get those first people who are willing to try something new, and then how they become informal diffusers. How they become the folks who go out into communities, try to get other people and you get those ripple effects.

If somebody wanted to reach out to continue to promote this, what would you recommend?

For me, the best way to keep up with my work is to go to my website. It’s LifePathsResearch.org.

I have a website at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. That’s where I work and can be found very easily for ongoing conversation.

Vicki and Sherry, thank you so much for this. Again, as somebody that’s a non-academic but somebody who is pretty nerdy on this stuff, I love this. I see all the connections here. I appreciated this and wish you both the best of luck.

Thank you so much.

Thanks so much for the opportunity. It has been great.

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About Sherry Hamby

LFL 137 | Strengths Based PreventionSherry Hamby has taught at Sewanee since 2008. She is Research Professor of Psychology and Director of the Life Paths Research Program at the University of the South. She is also founding editor of the American Psychological Association journal Psychology of Violence, which has a top 10 ranking in Family Studies and Criminology, based on Impact Factor.

A clinical psychologist, she has worked for more than 20 years on the problem of violence, including front-line crisis intervention for domestic and other violence, involvement in grassroots domestic violence organizations, therapy with trauma survivors, and research on many forms of violence. She is the Principal Investigator of a grant from the John Templeton Foundation that focuses on the Laws of Life Essay program and is conducted from the Life Paths Research Program here on campus.

She is co-investigator on the National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence, which is the U.S.’s primary surveillance of youth victimization and the first national effort to measure crimes against children under 12 that are not reported to authorities. She conducted the first reservation-based study of domestic violence among American Indians and collaborated on Sortir Ensemble et Se Respecter, the first Swiss dating violence prevention program. She is a member of the Board of Scientific Counselors at the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control and was selected in 2013 as a “Woman Making an Impact on Children’s Exposure to Violence” by the Safe Start National Resource Center, among other recognitions.

About Victoria Banyard

LFL 137 | Strengths Based PreventionVictoria Banyard has dedicated her academic career to finding better ways to help communities prevent and respond to interpersonal violence. Banyard – who received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology (and a Certificate in Women’s Studies) from the University of Michigan – has worked with colleagues across the U.S. and abroad to help shape policy at the national, state and local level through a rigorous examination of violence-prevention programs centered on a critical question: Do they work? Banyard uses multiple methods, both quantitative and qualitative, to understand how, where and why prevention strategies and programs succeed or not.

Her research, begun more than 25 years ago, underscores the importance of listening well to survivors and empowering those in a position to help them – be they policy makers, social workers, or bystanders – with the best practices available. Originally from New Jersey, Vicki is excited to return to the Garden State and join the School of Social Work faculty. She is eager to meet new colleagues and students at Rutgers – to learn from them, and join in their important work.

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