LAWRENCE — Involving men in gender-based violence prevention events and community mobilization is one step toward confronting a serious problem. A University of Kansas researcher is part of an international survey to find out what motivates men to take part in such events, why they do or don’t continue with them, and what they think of the organizing endeavors.
Juliana Carlson, assistant professor of social welfare, is part of a research team that is completing online surveys with nearly 300 men from more than 35 countries who have taken part in some form of organized gender-based violence prevention event. By gathering a wealth of data from the participants, the researchers hope to provide feedback to gender-based violence prevention organizations, social workers and others who work with boys and men.
“The domestic violence and sexual assault movement, which has been around since the ‘70s, has largely focused on the female survivors and male perpetrators of the violence,” Carlson said. “While in the last 15 years or so there has been a new focus on, 'How do we engage boys and men to prevent the violence from taking place?’ There hasn’t been a lot of research to see what’s effective and ask how are they getting funding and similar questions.”
The survey seeks to identify factors that influence men’s willingness to get involved in the effort to combat violence against women. The researchers are looking to find out whether a relative or loved one’s experiences with gender-based violence was a motivating factor, if fatherhood played a role or other motivating factors.
Carlson is working with Richard Tolman of the University of Michigan, Erin Casey of the University of Washington-Tacoma, independent researcher Christopher Allen and Heather Storer, doctoral student at the University of Washington-Seattle. The researchers presented preliminary findings at the American Men’s Studies Association Conference in March in Tacoma, Wash.
In addition to seeking information on why men take part in such efforts, Carlson and colleagues hope to find out the effects the anti-violence participation has on participants. Some men attend only one event, while others remain involved in anti-violence efforts for years. The objective is to find out what contributes to the decision to drop out and to learn more about the motivations of those who have remained involved. The researchers also are surveying men on their attitudes toward topics such as gender equality and will look to find out whether men involved for the long term have higher gender equality scores.
“Our goal is to get a better sense of what’s bringing men to these prevention efforts,” Carlson said. "What motivates them to continue or drop out? We want to get a better understanding of the shifts in attitudes of those involved.”
Prior studies conducted by the researchers examined organizations that provide anti-violence efforts. Questions addressed the nature and reach of those efforts to engage men in violence prevention.
The survey, available in French, Spanish and English, also will give researchers a look at regional and cultural differences in violence prevention efforts offered in various locations. The data will help guide culture-specific recommendations for providers based on their region and avoid “one size fits all” approaches.
Following the presentation of preliminary data, the research team will begin writing journal articles and recommendations based on an analysis of the findings. Carlson, whose research focuses largely on fatherhood and violence prevention, plans to analyze data from survey respondents who indicate fatherhood as a reason they became involved in violence prevention efforts. By examining questions such as where such respondents are from and what their attitudes toward gender equality and violence prevention are, Carlson hopes to further her larger goal of helping reduce exposure to early childhood violence.