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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.

Currently, the Institute's principle injury initiative is UNITY (Urban Networks to Increase Thriving Youth through Violence Prevention). Funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), UNITY supports the nation's largest cities in developing sustainable strategies for building community resilience and preventing violence in the first place.

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.