Strategy and Policy Development
This section provides guidance on developing your policy goals and identifying potential policy strategies to address TDV.
Policy may be adopted on different levels, whether by institutions, schools, districts, or at the state-level, and may be voluntary or required. You might have multiple policy goals, depending on the nature of TDV in your community, the needs revealed in your policy inventory, and other contextual factors.
Your policy objectives should be SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-oriented) and should reflect the improvements you would like to see in relation to TDV and healthy relationships. Consider the nature of TDV in your community and the experiences, priorities, and concerns of your community advisory board, colleagues, and other partners to develop policy goals. You might like to see changes in behaviors, knowledge, or attitudes related to TDV. Your objectives could also be connected to process and systems outcomes, such as the number of students reached by a strategy, the frequency of inclusion of TDV in existing policy, or the improvement of systems related to the implementation of TDV strategies.
If you found that existing policies lacked certain elements, such as primary prevention, consider revising the policies to integrate certain elements of prevention. Gaps in existing policy can be used to bolster the evidence base. For example, it might be possible to address TDV in an existing policy on a safe school environment. The strength of this approach is it can be less time intensive than developing new policies due to the fact that you would be working within an existing policy framework. Another strength is that TDV prevention can be addressed and awareness raised even if it is not a high priority for policymakers. A possible limitation may be that efforts to prevent violence may remain fragmented, under resourced, and uncoordinated.
If your policy inventory revealed that policies do not exist, or existing policy is inadequate and modifications would be too extensive, consider where new theory- and evidence-based policy strategies might be needed to fill policy gaps, encourage healthy relationships, and prevent TDV in your community. Primary prevention can be incorporated into all new policy language. The strengths of this approach are twofold: you can start fresh and be comprehensive, addressing areas that have not been adequately addressed and include stakeholders who were not included in the first round of policy. One limitation may be the amount of effort it takes to get new policies implemented.
While the evidence for TDV-related policy is not well developed, there are many policy solutions that could support the prevention of TDV and other risk and protective factors that relate to TDV (e.g., mental health issues, bullying, harassment, youth violence, substance use, sexual health, relationship quality, friendship quality, family quality, parenting styles/quality). Many states and localities are developing or have developed policies that are intended to create an environment that raises awareness about and prevents TDV.
Ensure that your goals are matched with appropriate policy strategies for the most suitable level of policy. While your goals should be based on the improvements that can be made related to TDV prevention, your policy strategies should bring about the desired improvements. It is important to carefully analyze potential policy strategies to ensure that they will not have negative health or health equity impacts, are evidence- or theory-based, respond to the needs and realities of the intended audiences, and are feasible in terms of implementation, enforcement, monitoring, and evaluation.
Not much is known about effective, feasible, and sustainable policy approaches for TDV prevention. Though the literature contains little information on protective factors and policy interventions. Keep in mind that these are examples of goals and approaches; the goals and approaches you select should be appropriate for your community.
There are a number of ways you can work with a community advisory board and other partners to explore potential policy strategies:
Identify potential public and organizational policy strategies and conduct an analysis of the strategies to determine the best fit;
Ensure that existing and potential policy strategies are feasible for parties that may take action related to implementation or enforcement (e.g., schools);
Describe how the potential policies will influence quality of life, morbidity and mortality (health impact), the feasibility of adoption and implementation, and the costs to implement the policy and how the costs compare with the benefits (budget and economic impact); and
- Identify how potential policies will operate and what is needed for policy implementation (e.g., understand jurisdictional context and identify information and capacity needs).
Problems, Policy Goals, and Potential Approaches
Develop a Logic Model
A logic model specifically details the actions your organization will take and what you believe will be the intended results. It describes your thinking about how and why activities lead to long-term goals and provides a road map for your efforts and the framework for evaluating policy work. Developing a logic model will help you determine how your actions and the actions of your partners will help you reach your short-, mid-, and long-term goals. This should be a blueprint that can be used to think through your policy plans and involve other partners. It will also provide a clear basis for your evaluation. You may build upon logic models you have already developed to guide you through this process. As you develop your logic model, make sure to consider questions below.
For further information on developing a logic model please click here.
Develop a Policy Plan
Once you have defined your issues or problems, determined what existing policies address the issues or problems, identified new policies or modifications that might be needed, developed goals, and considered potential strategies, you can begin to develop your policy plan.
The plan can provide a concise description of the overall shape and direction your efforts will take. It is important that the writers of the plan are able to work closely with partners and key stakeholders to incorporate the views and interests of everyone involved in these efforts.
The tone and structure of your plan can be written so that everyone participating in its development and implementation can easily understand it. It is best to avoid using overly technical terms whenever possible. If needed, include a glossary.
Develop a narrative plan that outlines how the organization intends to educate about policy in its community. Work with a community advisory board to develop the plan. The plan can include the following elements:
- A description of the TDV problem in your community and your goals related to promoting healthy relationships and preventing TDV;
- An overview of existing TDV-related policy efforts;
- An explanation of how the creation of new policies or the enhancement of existing policies might fill gaps in efforts to promote healthy relationships and prevent TDV;
- A description of the evidence-, practice-, and theory-based policy options that could lead to your desired outcomes;
- A theory of change, or logic model, that demonstrates how your proposed strategies will lead to your desired outcomes;
- A work plan that details the timeline and process for informing policy, including the roles and responsibilities of the organization, community advisory board members, and other partners and stakeholders;
- A description of how you intend to monitor and evaluate your policy efforts;
- A description of how you intend to monitor and evaluate the implementation of your proposed policy strategies.
Write Policy Language
Once you know the level of policy and the type of strategies you want to inform, you can begin to draft policy language. You could describe how to infuse primary prevention strategies into existing policy or write or draft new policies, if it is an allowable activity for your organization or government agency. For example, local health departments regularly work with other agencies within the executive branch of their local government in support of policy approaches and with their own local government’s legislative body on policy approaches to health issues as part of normal executive-legislative relationships. Sometimes this includes drafting language. Drafting voluntary organizational policies is allowable.
The research and analysis you have done up to this point will help you focus on the kind of policies and language you need to address. Refer to the language used in the policies reviewed in your policy inventory and those in the example TDV policy table as examples to help you draft your language.
See below for suggested policy elements for educational systems.
- Address TDV in school policy and implement TDV curricula.
- Establish clear definitions of key terms (e.g., teen, violence, school-based) in policies that correspond wherever possible with existing definitions in other policies.
- Use evidence-based or evidence-informed TDV prevention curriculum instruction for students, include TDV in statewide and/or local education agency policy, and train on both the curriculum and policy for school personnel.
- Adapt an evidence-based curriculum to ensure relevance across diverse populations (e.g., LGBTQ youth).
- Include an evidence-based component for students in grades K–12 that addresses promoting healthy relationships and an evidence-based component for grades 6–12 that addresses TDV prevention in curriculum.
- Include applicable interventions, disciplinary actions, and resources for both alleged victims and perpetrators in school policies.
- Conduct annual verification by local school districts to the state board of education that TDV has been included in the district- or school-level policy, staff have received appropriate training on the policy and on warning signs of TDV, and the curriculum has been conducted for all stated grade levels.
- Encourage annual reporting by the state board of education to the state legislature or oversight committee verifying compliance with the law and providing aggregate data on local school district compliance.
- Collect aggregate annual data on the number of reports of suspected instances of TDV, demographics (age, race, sex) of alleged victims and perpetrators, location of incident, how the incident was addressed, and any previous incidents involving one or more of the same parties.
- Evaluate implemented curriculum and school policy by an independent third party.
- Ensure adequate funding for local implementation of curriculum; policy development and distribution; technical assistance; training; compliance monitoring; and evaluation.
- Partner with stakeholder organizations, including education, domestic violence and rape crisis organizations, criminal justice, child welfare services, community resource providers, and public health departments/agencies at the local and state level.
- Encourage collaboration between state and local health and education agencies.
- Give parents the opportunity to learn about TDV, to be notified of school policy regarding TDV, and to view the chosen curriculum.