Futures Without Violence

Changing the Game for Girls: Sexual Violence Can Be Stopped Highly Ranked

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To learn more about – or provide significant funding to – this project, please contact Lever for Change.

Project Summary

Nearly one in three adolescent girls is sexually assaulted or abused, often derailing futures, increasing school drop-out, and harming health and earning potential. But what if we could stop sexual violence before it happens? Futures Without Violence and its partner, ICRW, will demonstrate that we can—by scaling a program that is proven to prevent sexual and relationship violence among adolescents. Our rigorously tested model leverages the powerful cultural influence of sports to influence behavior and attitude change among adolescent boys and prevents violence before it happens. In areas of India, Native American Tribal Nations, and the U.S. with some of the most marginalized girls in the world, we will reach 20 million adolescents with this program, preventing ~8.5 million incidences of sexual and relationship violence; saving over $50 billion in societal costs; and demonstrating how, from cricket to soccer to baseball, every country has the means to end sexual violence.

Problem Statement

The sexual and relationship violence that disproportionately affects adolescent girls is one of the greatest public health and human rights crises of our time. It’s happening to girls en route to school, on buses, and in homes. Nearly one in three adolescents experiences physical, sexual, or other forms of abuse, with rates even higher among marginalized girls (more than 80% in some communities).These forms of violence have profound and lasting effects on girls’ lives. One instance of sexual assault increases the likelihood of depression and suicide, lowers school performance, has lifelong health and financial costs (for survivors and society), and, in some contexts, forces girls into early marriages. Violence against girls is fueled by harmful gender norms that regard aggression and violence as hallmarks of masculinity, and case after case, marginalized girls are missing school to avoid perpetrators or dropping out.Yet, despite life-altering consequences and prevalence rates at epidemic proportions, only 4% of bilateral aid is dedicated to gender equity as a main objective and even less is focused on preventing sexual/relationship violence. While we stand at one of the most promising chapters in history in terms of understanding how to prevent the violence that adversely affects marginalized girls, the global community has not yet invested in scaling a solution (specifically targeted at marginalized girls) that can demonstrate to all countries that it can be done. For one of the first times in history, we have the evidence. We have the will. The ball is in your court.

Solution Overview

FUTURES and ICRW will stop sexual/relationship violence against marginalized girls before it occurs, unleashing the full potential of an entire generation. Our rigorously tested model leverages the powerful cultural influence of sports to make measurable behavior and attitude change among adolescent boys, before the onset of adulthood.Over a five year period, we will create a vast network of thousands of youth athletic coaches, who together reach 20 million adolescents in the most marginalized communities of India, the U.S., and Native American Tribal Nations. These coaches will tap into the powerful bonds that kids develop through sports, and will deliver and model interactive messages about preventing violence and respectful relationships using our evidence-based card series, “playbook,” and other tools – transforming the time kids spend playing sports into opportunities for life-altering change. The benefits: by reaching 20 million adolescents with this approach, our research shows we can prevent an estimated 8.5 million incidences of violence over five years, increasing girls’ likelihood to stay in school, delay marriage, and improve health. An estimated $50 billion in lifetime costs associated with sexual violence will also be saved.Importantly, our solution demonstrates how every country with a robust culture of youth sports has a surprising but powerful pathway to shape culture in positive ways and prevent sexual and relationship violence. We will know we are making progress by tracking behavior and attitudinal change alongside national and state surveys of violence perpetrated against marginalized girls, and soliciting continuous feedback from participating communities

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Project Funders

  • Waitt Institute for Violence Prevention 2000 - 2016
  • Stardust Fund 2015 - 2018
  • Nike Foundation 2008 - 2010

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