Gender-Based Violence Community Risk Assessment

Written by: Drs. Sandy Jung and Jesmen Mendoza

Courage to Act has an exciting tool in development through a new research-to-action project: a Gender-Based Violence Community Risk Assessment. But what is this tool and why are we developing it?

The Courage to Act Report, along with the project’s Communities of Practice, identified that there is no standard metric to identify the level of risk posed to a campus community in regards to an incident or an event of gender-based violence (GBV) occurring. Instead, Canadian post-secondary institutions (PSIs) use generalized risk assessment tools to decide interim measures or make disciplinary decisions. Typically, these generalized risk assessment tools have been statistically validated on or normed to convicted offenders. So, the use of such tools on our campus populations needs to be carefully applied and scrutinized.

Another difficulty with some of these generalized risk assessment tools that are being used by Canadian PSIs to inform their decision-making with respect to creating safety on our campuses is that they are firmly situated in criminal justice frameworks, as opposed to employing non-punitive justice approaches and philosophies.

Finally, a glaring absence in all of these generalized risk assessment tools is not accounting for the impact of the GBV experienced by the victim. Most generalized risk assessment tools instead focused on more perpetrator factors in terms of determining risk overall and risk for recidivism as opposed to risk to the community. These shortcomings mentioned above raise doubts as to the utility of these generalized risk assessment tools at PSIs.

Courage to Act recognizes the deep need to develop a specific tool for determining the risk to a campus community relative to an incident of GBV occurring. This next phase of the project will focus on the development of this community risk assessment tool by project leaders, Drs. Sandy Jung and Jesmen Mendoza.

Part one of the development of this tool will entail a thorough literature review and environmental scan of relevant factors to be employed. Part two of the development will entail the creation of the tool itself. Part three of the community risk assessment tool will involve expert community feedback from key stakeholders. And finally, part four will involve piloting of the tool. As the development of this community risk assessment tool starts to unfold over the next two years, we look forward to reporting on its progress!


Suggested Citation: Jung, S. & Mendoza, J. (2021, November). Gender-Based Violence Community Risk Assessment. Courage to Act.

Dr. Jesmen Mendoza

Jesmen Mendoza has been registered with the College of Psychologists of Ontario since 2008. He has provided counselling and psychotherapy since 1999 on a range of issues and in a variety of settings. He is located at Ryerson University’s Centre for Student Development and Counselling where he provides therapy to university students, training to psychology practicum students and consultation to faculty and staff on tricky issues. Prior to Ryerson, he has provided service in a number of social service and criminal justice settings and applies an integrated, inclusive and positive psychology approach to all of the clinical and community work he delivers.

Dr. Sandy Jung

Sandy Jung is a Professor in the Department of Psychology at MacEwan University on Treaty 6 territory, also known as Edmonton. Sandy maintains an active research program that focuses on the prevention of sexual assault, intimate partner violence, and risk assessment and management, and is funded by both internal and major external grants. She has numerous peer-reviewed publications in the field of forensic psychology, often co-authored with her students and several of her collaborators in law enforcement, forensic mental health, and other academic colleagues nationally and internationally. She regularly teaches abnormal, forensic, and clinical psychology, and actively provides supervision of honours and advanced research students. She has been awarded teaching and research awards by her institution and external academic associations. She serves on the editorial board for the journals, Sexual Abuse and Sexual Offending: Theory, Research, and Prevention.”

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