To prevent sexual violence, it is important to understand that a complex interaction between factors at the levels of the individual, interpersonal relationship, community, and society contribute to sexual violence. This is often referred to as the ecological model.
Therefore, an important part of well-child care is taking a complete social history that examines the context of the child’s life at each of these levels. Two examples of how to take a social history are
Remember that families will be more likely to reveal sexual violence or other psychosocial problems when your counseling occurs as part of building a relationship with the family. Be respectful and nonjudgmental. When this is difficult, try asking open-ended questions or look for ways to bring up touchy subjects more indirectly (eg, mentioning a recent local event, asking a teen about his friend’s behaviors).
For more information on approaches to sexual violence prevention, see