Interventions can be multidirectional. Dr. Watts cited an example of an intervention in Côte d’Ivoire that was focused on preventing intimate partner violence by working with men to redefine constructs of masculinity. In follow-up surveys, the data collected suggested that some men involved in the intervention program chose not to become involved in current ethnopolitical violence because of the experience they had during the intervention program. However, some multidirectional consequences can be negative. Dr. Fagan told an anecdote of a policing program in New York that involves stopping individuals to search for illegal guns, increasing the number of young women carrying guns because they are not stopped and searched as often as men.
Some speakers suggested that interventions should focus on changing social norms. Dr. Watts suggested that changing social norms around the construct of masculinity has been shown to prevent the contagion of family violence. She also noted that intervention programs often focus on the woman who had been a victim of intimate partner violence, but do not address the children within the household. She suggested that interventions targeted for the entire household are key to interrupting the contagion of violence. Dr. Fagan suggested that retooling the relationship between the police and gun offenders could help interrupt community-level violence. Unregulated punishment can exacerbate susceptibility to violence and increase the network density of people who share police victimization experiences. Dr. Gould commented that, to interrupt suicide contagion, social norms regarding talking openly about suicide risks need to change. There is a myth that because suicide is contagious, you cannot ask about suicide. However, you can assess for suicidal ideation without making a person think that he or she should commit suicide.
Dr. Dubow commented on the importance of interventions focused on protective factors. Most interventions to prevent ethnopolitical violence are trauma-focused. However, the evidence is showing the importance of protective factors and such interventions can be implemented in school and community settings. He also noted the importance of enhancing the protective factor of the family (specifically, the family is protective against exposure to violence on children), by bolstering the family itself. This could be through providing mental health services to families during times of ethnopolitical conflict, or in the case of reintegration post-conflict (such in the case of child soldiers), by providing extra-familial activities such as work that reduce stress on the family structure itself.
Speaker Carl Bell of the Community Mental Health Council commented that one of the challenges with public health interventions to interrupt epidemics is that the epidemics often are cyclical. He gave the example