Over the course of the last few years, people in the United States have been increasingly willing to view gun violence as a public health issue. The mass shootings, the magnitude of the violence, and the contagious nature of violence all make the public health perspective an appropriate part of the discussion.
But more than just a perspective, the health sector needs to step up and start to play a very important role in stopping violence. Because of our training, experience, and place in the community, the health sector has the ability to intervene to stop violence in a way that no other sector can. Health professionals around the world have been becoming involved in preventing violence and there are many examples of effective approaches–including the Cure Violence model –but in many communities the health sector remains uninvolved.
It is not enough to treat only the obvious physical injuries of a victim of violence. We know enough to know with certainty that victims of violence experience mental trauma that, if untreated, can result in re-injury or injury to another person. Health professional come into contact with victims of violence regularly. There is a moral obligation to try to treat the mental trauma as well as the physical trauma.
A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to present on the role of the health sector in addressing violence for a webinar put on by the Dialogue4Health. In this webinar, I laid out some of the roles for the health sector. These are specific actions and roles that in many cases have proven to be successful in other cities and can be adopted by communities around the world.
A recording of the webinar is available online and I encourage you to listen to my 20 minute presentation to learn more about how and why the health sector is needed to prevent violence. Also, we have a list of some of the main roles that need to be filled by health professionals. If you are a health professional, you should look at the roles and ask yourself how you can implement these strategies to stop violence. If you are unsure how to implement these actions, we can offer assistance.