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A Public Health Approach to Violence Prevention

Focuses on decision-making with a wide range of individuals from different backgrounds, perspectives & disciplines based on data and best practices:

  1. Primary Prevention Orientation – efforts designed to prevent violence before it occurs
  2. Community Emphasis – including the community as a resource for identifying and understanding the problem, and for helping find solutions and implementing prevention programs;
  3. Focus on Root Causes – the VPN has identified three root causes and six risk factors upon which it is basing its work:
    • Root Causes: oppression, poverty, mental health/family dynamics
    • Risk Factors: alcohol, firearms, witnessing acts of violence, media, community deterioration, and incarceration
  4. Data-Driven – approaches based on data that describe the nature of the problem, as well as contributing risk and resiliency factors;
  5. Collaborative – stressing importance of multiple perspectives and partners from many different disciplines in order to effectively utilize expertise and resources and to coordinate responses and approaches; and
  6. Integrated Approach – stressing community-wide, holistic and systemic solutions to prevent violence that are based on the continuum of prevention strategies and interventions.

Public Health Definitions of Prevention

Multiple levels of prevention and intervention require a comprehensive continuum of effort among an array of health, education, welfare and human service providers in partnership with law and justice systems.

  1. Primary Prevention – prevents violence so that it does not occur; taking proactive steps to keep people safe and healthy and to address attitudes, behavior, conditions and environment.
  2. Secondary Prevention – focuses on early identification or intervention and addresses attitudes, behaviors, conditions and environment.
  3. Tertiary Prevention – relates to reactive efforts and intervention where there are recognized problems.

*Based on Larry Cohen & Susan Swift, A Public Health Approach to
the Violence Epidemic in the United States," Environment and Urbanization,
Vol. 5, No. 2, October, 1993