Violence Prevention

For science.

Violence is a leading cause of premature death. In 2017, the U.S. was home to 39,773 gun-related deaths. Sixty percent of those (23,854) were suicides.[1] About one in three women and one in four men has experienced some form of physical intimate partner violence,[2] and one out of every six women in the U.S. has been the victim of rape or attempted rape.[3]  In the last year, one in seven children reported being victims of child abuse and neglect, though CDC reports that this is likely a low estimate.[4] Violence affects people of all ages and races but has a disproportionate impact on young adults and communities of color. For example, black people are killed by police at three times the rate of white people.[5]

For action.

As public health professionals, violence prevention, particularly gun violence, is the public health crisis of our lifetime. Urge policymakers to provide research funding[6] on par with the nation's gun violence epidemic, and call on lawmakers[7] to pass commonsense measures that reduce the risk of gun deaths and injuries. Work with colleges and universities on ways to prevent sexual violence, such as offering bystander intervention training. Promote support for victims of sexual violence, such as offering trauma-informed services.[8] Learn about community-based strategies for creating the kinds of "safe, stable and nurturing" environments that help prevent child abuse and neglect.[9] Advocate for community-driven solutions to violence prevention that identify and target the root of violence.

For health.

While much more study is needed, research already shows that commonsense gun safety laws can make a difference. For example, researchers found that in the years following Connecticut’s permit-to-purchase handgun law, firearm homicides went down 40%.[10] (See the Connecticut study and much more in APHA’s American Journal of Public Health, which has committed to making all of its gun violence research open access.[11]) More traditional public health interventions can make a difference, too. Home-visiting models[12] have been shown to significantly reduce the risk of child maltreatment. Community-led models can be especially effective when it comes to violence prevention. The innovative Cure Violence model[13]  — which takes methods typically associated with disease control and applies them to violence prevention — has resulted in significant drops in local gun violence.

For justice.

When there is disinvestment in communities, and there’s violence in their neighborhoods, kids are more likely to experience abuse or neglect at home. Community risk factors include high rates of poverty, residential instability, unemployment and a high concentration of places to buy alcohol.[14] Community development is an effective way to interrupt the cycles of poverty through meeting basic community needs, making a good education available to everyone and investing in communities to improve residents’ financial security.[15] A public health approach to violence prevention fosters healthy gender norms and relationships, bolsters trauma-informed services and addresses racism.[16] Exposure to violence is a key predictor of future violence, so we must work to dismantle it at the root and employ an upstream approach recognizing violence as preventable and not inevitable.