We Can Cure Violence

Years ago we did not understand violence, but today science has actually figured out a lot of what causes violence and can help to show us how to prevent it.

Scientific Discovery of Epidemic Diseases

Plague in the 14th Century

Hundreds of years ago, people were dying by the thousand, but nobody knew why. We tried to come up with reasons: that the sick people were “bad” people, morally responsible for their plight; the conditions and poverty in the ghettos caused it; certain races of people were responsible for it.

These explanations were all wrong. People were dying because of a tiny little bug – plague, cholera, small pox, and others. At the time, this idea – that an invisible bug was killing people – would have been seen as preposterous. Scientific discovery allowed us to understand this as the true cause. And with this understanding came an understanding of how to treat it, even when cures do not exist. Today, epidemic diseases are largely a thing of the past. Violence can be a thing of the past too.

Violence as a Health Issue

Violence is a health issue because it negatively affects the health of people – both the obvious physical injuries of the victims as well as those who witness violence and consequently suffer from mental trauma. Counterintuitively, this mental trauma from exposure has been scientifically shown to increase a person’s risk of adopting violent behavior themselves, meaning that violent behavior transmits and spreads based on exposure – just like an epidemic disease. Using health approaches to treat violence like an epidemic disease can effectively reduce violence.

Learn more about violence as a health issue.

Science of Violent Behavior

What causes people to behave violently? If we want to seriously address violence, we must answer this question. To start, violence is driven by the brain, which regulates and controls all behaviors. Many discoveries have been made about the invisible workings of the brain in the fields of social psychology, neurology, and epidemiology that have shed some light on how behaviors are formed.

Learn more about the science of violent behavior.

Changing Behavior

Violence is a learned behavior that can be unlearned. To stop violence, we need to change individual, group and community behaviors. We have been able to do this in our program sites by using the latest understandings and data to identify and effectively treat those who are behaving violently using credible messengers.

Learn more about changing behavior.

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