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Preventing Violence and Reducing Injury

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Injuries are predictable and preventable

Injuries are responsible for countless lost lives, decreased quality of life, and substantial health care costs. While injuries afflict everyone, people of color and low-income populations are particularly vulnerable. Quality injury prevention is essential to closing this health-equity gap and to improving wellness outcomes for all. There are two types of injuries: unintentional and intentional/violence. Unintentional injuries include traffic-related injuries, falls, burns, poisonings, and drowning. Intentional injuries or violence include homicides, rapes, suicides, abuse and assaults. Intentional and unintentional injuries were first clustered together as a single field because both manifest as trauma. While the fields tend to be differentiated today, there are a number of similarities in terms of their overarching approach to preventing the injuries from occurring in the first place.

Injury prevention strategies have a history of success. Policies, such as car seat legislation and minimum drinking age laws, have changed norms and substantially reduced rates of death and disability. The field provides exemplary models of coordinated, comprehensive strategies that alter the social and physical environments, thus fostering health and safety. Prevention Institute has played a leading role since its founding in promoting legislation, initiatives, and alliances in this arena. The Institute has mobilized health professionals across disciplines, equipping them with cross-cutting injury prevention strategies.

To help ensure that community needs were well integrated into national strategy, the Institute conducted a series of forums across the country to bring local and regional perspectives to a nationwide effort to launch a crosscutting violence and injury prevention strategy. The findings were delivered in a unique way, using the digital story-telling method pioneered for battered women's shelters, to ensure that the community vision maintained its local flavor. Local Wisdom is the Key delineates these findings, which are also available in a written report.

One of Prevention Institute's violence prevention priorities is the UNITY initiative. UNITY builds community safety in cities through comprehensive, multi-sector strategies that prevent violence and support community resilience. PI partners with a group of the nation's largest cities through the UNITY City Network and offers training and consultation, organizes convenings, develops and disseminates tools and materials, and conducts other network-building activities. By supporting practice and innovation, UNITY has been collectively advancing the field and shifting the paradigm on community violence and what cities can do about it since 2005.

UNITY is engaged in a number of areas important to cities, such as addressing and preventing community trauma; the role of public health in creating safer communities; engaging multiple-sectors in effective prevention, including the business sector; and, community-centered health systems taking action to prevent violence. With support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, PI is also working through UNITY with the Center for the Study of Social Policy to advance community approaches to safe communities and positive early childhood development.

UNITY is supported by grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Langeloth Foundation. Previous funders also include the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The California Wellness Foundation, and The Kresge Foundation."

At the local level, the Institute has conducted programs such as Walkable Community Workshops to engage stakeholders in assessing and prioritizing pedestrian safety issues in their neighborhoods. The Institute has also supported a continued global presence for injury prevention through efforts such as facilitating sessions at the World Public Health Congress and the World Conference on Injury Prevention and Safety Promotion. The Institute is also a member of the World Health Organization's (WHO) Global Violence Prevention Alliance.