Violence Prevention: The public health approach

Check out these headlines. What do they say to you?

2 Dead, 3 Injured in Overnight Shootings

UIC Student Knocked Out During Robbery Near Campus

Teen sexually assaulted on way to school on West Side

Set in the backdrop of suburban Chicago, these news stories represent the ongoing and increasing problem of exposure to violence.

Now that we know there is a serious problem what might communities and individuals do about it?

Earlier this month, the mayor went on the defensive about a surge of recent homicides [in Chicago]. Between the start of 2012 and April 1, Chicago Police recorded 120 homicides, a 60 percent spike over the 75 murders during the same period in 2010 and 2011

Well one solution is to look at preventing violence exposure using a public health approach. This approach is a clear framework to help understand, identify, strategize, and disseminate prevention interventions. The chart below summarizes this framework.

To really get a full understanding of the approach, please see the Center for Disease Control’s comprehensive summary of the Public Health Approach to Violence Prevention.

The most important thing to remember when understanding and learning this approach is that it takes everyone’s participation for it to be a success. There are several examples out there of programs that actively and successfully demonstrate using this approach to prevent and reduce the impact of exposure to violence.

The Safe Start Initiative follows this form of approach. We’ve identified the problem of exposure to violence and know the risks surrounding it. The Center now works on the ongoing development and dissemination of strategies and materials that raise awareness and prevention efforts.

The Public Health Leadership Initiative is yet another example of a program following this approach. They work through partnerships to assist state agencies who work to protect the lives of children and families to prevent child maltreatment.

An even more recent example is the National Summit on Preventing Youth Violence. This annual event is a meeting of programs and individuals to describe, identify, and strategize ways to prevent the crisis of youth and gang violence in the U.S.

These are just a few of the programs/organizations that use a public health approach to prevent violence and its consequences. Violence exposure is a serious problem, but the public health approach is a way to help identify and prevent it from happening further!

If you’d like a detailed and comprehensive list of resources and information about this topic check out the World Health Organization’s Violence publications and resources.

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