Reduce Risk

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Who should be involved in selection of risk reduction strategies? Deciding on risk reduction strategies is something you shouldn't do completely on your own. While your organization may come up with some great ideas on its own, it's important to bring members of the community into the process, including people who can make a difference (those who can bring support and reserves to a cause) and people who are experiencing the problem. A community-wide approach works best in most cases. Including members of the community in this process is advised because: * It can help change community norms and values, which are often tied to risk and protective factors. For example, if you're trying to do HIV/AIDS prevention work with a community in which casual, unprotected sex is widely accepted, involving key members of the community can start reinforcing the idea that such behaviors aren't okay. This in turn leads to the next reason: * It creates a wider base of support for changing behavior. The more people you involve, and the more people from a wide variety of different groups, agencies, programs, and projects within the larger community, the better. * It can give you a better sense of what resources are available to you in the community. Hey, you can't always know everything about area resources, especially in urban environments. Having a good cross-section of representatives from your community, especially those who are involved in government, social service agencies, and local businesses, can help you tune in to what's out there for you to use. * It can help galvanize public support for your initiative. Having a good cross -section of the community involved in your coalition means they will develop ownership in your efforts. Their support will bring their constituencies along with them. * It is more likely to lead to long-term changes. Your strategies and tactics are being integrated into your community, leading to greater maintenance, sustainability, and institutionalization. Who are good people and groups to think about including?

* Local law enforcement
* Religious leaders
* Local government officials
* School administrators, teachers, PTA members, school board members (including school folks is especially advisable if your target population includes youth) * Health and human services agencies

* Local media representatives
* Youth and parents
* Local businesspeople
* Regular folks from a representative cross-section of the community You should also include members of the target population you serve in the process. Why should you include the target population? Including members of your target population is important because: * Giving the target population a say helps establish trust. In some communities there's a lot of distrust and suspicion regarding public health organizations or any institutions. For example, African Americans can be understandably skeptical about public health efforts because of past violations of their trust like the Tuskegee studies on syphilis, in which adequate treatment was withheld from a group of low -income African American men who had the disease. Finding ways to say, "We value your input," to those communities is essential. * Affected communities are often stronger and more resourceful than we give them credit for. Many people were surprised, for example, at the innovation and hard work that was demonstrated by the gay community in mobilizing to fight the AIDS crisis. Don't underestimate your target population! Even if they haven't accomplished a lot in prevention efforts before, you might be amazed at how much they accomplish with a little encouragement. * It can give your group a better understanding of what the community needs. If, when you're planning, you involve people from the group you're aiming at, you always have someone available to help you determine what will and won't work in a given community. It's instant feedback! * It...
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