Social Norms


Social norms refers to the rules of behavior and informal understandings that are considered acceptable in a group or society, and guide people’s behavior. These norms can influence a variety of behaviors such as gender norms, norms about aggression, and whether or not caregivers will seek help. The Violence and Injury Prevention ‒ Mental Health Promotion (VIP-MHP) Branch prioritizes creating healthy social norms along with connectedness, economic stability and supports and behavioral health, to build community resilience and prevent multiple forms of violence and injury.



VIP-MHP measures social norms through risk or protective factors that are common across multiple outcomes like substance abuse and violence and injury prevention. Those factors may include:
  • Cultural norms that support aggression toward others.
  • Media violence.
  • Harmful norms around masculinity and femininity.
  • Weak health, educational, economic, and social policies/laws.
  • Norms about seeking help as a parent or caregiver.

Upstream Prevention:
By improving healthy social norms as a shared priority, the following programs leverage resources to address upstream risk and protective factors, and prevent multiple forms of violence and injury at once. While the VIP-MHP Branch primarily works at the societal and community/organizational levels, the branch also collaborates with partners working at the individual and interpersonal levels of the model.

VIP-MHP Programs that Prioritize Healthy Social Norms:
  • Office of Suicide Prevention.
  • Child Fatality Prevention System.
  • Communities That Care.
  • Sexual Violence Prevention.
  • Motor Vehicle Safety.
  • Essentials for Childhood.