Article Text

Download PDFPDF
100 Addressing the social and physical environment for primary prevention of sexual violence on college campuses and beyond: what does the evidence say?
  1. Patricia Mahoney1,
  2. Allison Yatco1,
  3. Ishita Srivastava1,
  4. Charvonne Holliday1,
  5. Erin Boguski2,
  6. Stephanie Erdice3,
  7. Madison LaCure3,
  8. Andrea Gielen1,
  9. Michele Decker1
  1. 1Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, USA
  2. 2Maryland Department of Health, Baltimore, USA
  3. 3Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault, Baltimore, USA


Statement of Purpose Sexual violence (SV) is pervasive among college-age youth and persists despite mandated primary prevention activities on college campuses. There is a need to understand the environmental context in which SV occurs on college campuses and beyond. Hot Spot Mapping is an innovative strategy to inform environmental change that may be valuable in addressing campus-based SV, though limited evidence exists.

Methods/Approach Our team reviewed the available scientific and gray literature on Hot Spot Mapping and related strategies to inform environmentally-oriented SV prevention available on PubMed, Scopus, Embase, Web of Science, and Google Scholar (1990–2021). Key search terms encompassed the social and physical environment and context for SV in campus-based and community-based settings. We extracted 274 articles for full review; 57 relevant articles are included in our final review.

Results Four primary approaches emerged: spatial mapping and geographic characterization of reported incidents, hot spot mapping, safety audits, and place-based questions. Each approach offered strengths and weaknesses in their ability to clarify the social and physical geographies of unwanted sexual experiences. Evaluations were limited, as were precise recommendations for interventions to respond to identified risk zones. Results are presented in context of recommendations for future initiatives.

Conclusion Sexual violence prevention interventions rooted in altering the social and physical environment hold great promise for reducing SV, particularly on college campuses. Current approaches to clarify and improve physical and social environments for SV prevention suffer gaps in precision that may limit the value of resulting recommendations. Actionable strategies for increasing precision are discussed.

Significance This presentation offers a critical review of existing research to increase precision in the science of environmentally-oriented solutions to SV prevention, on college campuses and beyond.

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.