A Movement to treat violence as a health problem

Violence has devastated communities across the country, particularly low-income communities of color. People hold the right to safety, health promoting resources, and a future free of violence. We want to institutionalize programs, practices, and policies for health leaders to reverse these alarming trends. Health departments, hospitals, health insurers, health organizations and practitioners — both public and private — must play a vital role in stopping the spread, restoring health and preventing violence in the communities they serve. We must work together to prevent the conditions that lead to crime, provide mental health therapy and support for those involved or who are exposed to trauma, recognize warning signs of violent behavior, and strengthen communities. The healthcare sector must take a leadership role to prevent violence, but in order for it to succeed, every sector needs to take part.

Mission:

We are working to fundamentally change the discourse on and approach to violence from the prevailing paradigm that understands violence as moral corruption or human failing that applies punitive strategies to address the issue, to one that includes an understanding and addressing of violence as a health problem – a contagious epidemic. To do so successfully, we are activating voices and resources throughout our comprehensive health system and establishing violence prevention as a health sector responsibility and imperative. A health response to violence prevention offers a solution to the devastating and destructive effects of all forms of violence, stabilizing families and communities in a healthy manner – moving the nation towards equity. Learn more at www.ViolenceEpidemic.org.

Our Charge:

In the United States, violence claims an enormous $450 billion toll and nearly 60,000 lives annually. The epidemic clusters, spreads and transmits in a contagious fashion – leaving not only direct physical wounds for those who survive, but also mental, social and neurological damage to everyone in its path. Even so, violence is still not universally understood as a public health issue. We are a movement that strives to re-envision violence as a barrier to health and ultimately a national priority. In light of this philosophy, we advocate the following: (1) enacting social and behavioral campaigns to reduce violence; (2) using the comprehensive healthcare system as a point of intervention to interrupt the spread of violence; and (3) developing public health and epidemiology tools for community-based violence prevention programs.

Who We Are:

A group of over 70 health experts representing more than 15 of our most violent cities across the nation has gathered under the leadership of Former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher, Dr. Al Sommer, Dean Emeritus of Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University and Dr. Gary Slutkin, Founder/CEO of Cure Violence and Professor of Epidemiology and Global Health at University of Illinois at Chicago’s School of Public Health. Community leaders across the country are sharing and leveraging evidence-based approaches to violence prevention to save lives and create a model that can be implemented nationwide in impactful, sustainable and equitable ways. The Movement includes:

 * National Association of County and City Health Officials
 • Morehouse School of Medicine
 • Safe States Alliance                 
 • National Network of Public Health Institutes    
 • National Network of Hospital-based Violence Intervention Programs 
 • YouthALIVE!   
 • Kansas City Health Department 
 • Drexel University School of Medicine 
 • University of California Los Angeles 
 • New Orleans Health Department 
 • Philadelphia Health Department
 • CommonHealth ACTION          
 • Robert Wood Johnson Foundation 
 • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)                                
 • Johns Hopkins School of Public Health  
 • American Public Health Association (APHA)
 • Prevention Institute      
 • PolicyLink                                        
 • Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia 
 • San Francisco Department of Public Health 
 • Los Angeles Health Department
 • Berkeley Media Studies Group
 • Futures Without Violence
 • University of California San Francisco
 • Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disability Services
 • Alameda County Public Health Department
 • Cure Violence
 • University of Illinois at Chicago
 * 100 Million Healthier Lives
 * Advance Peace
 * Albert Einstein Medical Center
 * Baltimore City Health Department
 * Avielle Foundation
 * Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
 * Einstein Medical School
 * Lurie Children's Hospital
 * National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
 * National Association of County & City Health Officials
 * National Collaborative for Health Equity
 * National Health Collaborative on Violence & Abuse
 * National Urban League
 * New York City Dept. of Health & Mental Hygiene
 * Seattle Human Services Department
 * University of Chicago
 * University of California San Francisco
 * University of Delaware
 * Washington, D.C. Office of Chief Medical Examiner

What Is a Health Approach to Violence Prevention

Violence has devastated communities across the country, particularly low-income communities of color. People hold the right to safety, health promoting resources, and a future free of violence. We want to institutionalize programs, practices, and policies for health leaders to reverse these alarming trends. Health departments, hospitals, health insurers, health organizations and practitioners — both public and private — must play a vital role in stopping the spread, restoring health and preventing violence in the communities they serve. We must work together to prevent the conditions that lead to crime, provide mental health therapy and support for those involved in violence or who are exposed to trauma, recognize warning signs of violent behavior, and strengthen communities. The healthcare sector must take a leadership role to prevent violence, but in order for it to succeed, every sector needs to take part.

Stay Tuned

In 2016, the Movement will release the first of a series of white papers and recommendations that provide a roadmap and plan to successfully stop the epidemic of violence in the U.S. This will include the work of health experts nationwide. It will be an action plan for communities to adopt locally – where all members and sectors of communities know and understand their role in reversing the epidemic. This comprehensive approach leverages best practices, policies and procedures across all forms of violence prevention and recommends resources be aligned with the overall goal of saving lives.

How to Get Involved

Connect with your local health department, hospital, public health organization, etc. to learn what is being done and what can be done to further stop violence. Every community must take a stand to ensure that everyone can live a life free of violence — after all, none of us are healthy unless all of us are safe.

 

For more information on the Health Movement to Prevent Violence, please contact Shannon Cosgrove, Director of Health Policy at skc1@uic.edu.

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