The Need for “Meantime” Solutions

Last week, a colleague shared that Raleigh-based company, Undercover Colors, recently announced their new product for detecting beverages spiked with certain drugs.  From their website,

Drug-facilitated sexual assault (commonly known as “date rape”) is a global crime that impacts people of all genders. We spent four years in our lab developing a quick, easy and accurate test to help you make informed decisions for your personal safety.

Our test can tell you in as little as 30 seconds if your drink has been spiked with a common date rape drug. It’s discreet, fast, and small enough to fit in your pocket.

My first reaction: Whoa! This is so cool.

My second reaction: But isn’t this just another tool for would-be victims to use? Doesn’t this put the responsibility back on the victim, and not address the actual reason date rape is a thing? <– You know, rapists?

Yes. The answer is yes.

And, it’s what I would call a “meantime” solution.

The Merriam Webster definition of “meantime” is “the time before something happens or before a specified period ends.” In this case, that “something” that happens, or the end of the specified period, is a solution.

Should the solution address the root causes of date rape in order to eliminate it completely? YES, ABSOLUTELY.

But in the meantime, we need to do something to reduce/prevent/thwart attempts. And if that means that people–potential victims–need to attend classes on personal safety and self defense, test their own drinks for drugs–or throw them out–while out with a date or at the club, and/or carry around a self defense weapon that looks like a cat (and yes, I have one), then that’s what they have to do. For now.

Meantime solutions aren’t just for sexual violence. They’re important for all of our systemic, deep-rooted societal issues as well.

A lot of my work is related to tobacco control and prevention. We help communities work toward health-promoting policies that affect the retail environment. For tobacco, this could be prohibiting coupons for tobacco, making tobacco products and advertisements less visible and pervasive, or restricting the sale of tobacco in places like pharmacies or stores near schools.

Those policy options are meantime solutions because the best thing would be to eliminate commercial tobacco as a product entirely. I won’t get into all the reasons that’s not easy or won’t be happening any time soon, because I think you get the idea: while we are working to address the root causes of the very bad things in this world, we need solutions to address the downstream effects of them in the meantime.

And the meantime could last for a while, so let’s make it good.

 

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