The Journal of Public Health Policy just released a special issue on violence prevention, co-edited by Prevention Institute (PI) and colleagues from Public Health Ontario and Yale University’s Law and Psychiatry Division. The series was inspired by the United Nation’s (UN) 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which, for the first time, recognized violence prevention as integral to global sustainable development. The Agenda calls on member states to “significantly reduce all forms of violence and related death rates everywhere” and places violence as the top priority within an overarching goal to “promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development.”
Violence and Health: Merging Evidence and Implementation includes 10 articles by scholars and practitioners that outline ways to advance and deepen the conversation on effective global strategies and best local practices for preventing violence. The goal of the series is to provide the next generation of violence prevention strategies necessary to achieve the radical transformation that the UN’s 2030 Agenda outlines.
A key emphasis of the Special Supplement is to encourage the academic field to move beyond the conceptual or theoretical and to foster partnerships with practitioners. It’s vital that practitioners no longer consider theory to be distant from practice, and researchers don’t lose sight of what demands urgent analysis, while the needs of the community go unmet.
Leading off the series is a joint commentary - Violence, health, and the 2030 agenda: Merging evidence and implementation - co-authored by Bandy X. Lee, Peter D. Donnelly, Shikha Garg, and PI’s Larry Cohen. They write:
Across the world, safety affects not only where people live, work, travel, go to school, and recreate but also the level of economic development the country is able to achieve—and whether that society will have a thriving culture, generative workplaces, safe transportation, and areas where one can play, obtain essential goods, and be active. Strong local and national connections protect against violence and correspond with significantly lower rates of homicide and self-destructive behaviors such as substance abuse. According to some research, having policies and practices in place that support community cohesion, intergenerational connections, and a collective willingness to intervene on behalf of the common good, accounts for more than 70 per cent of the variation between communities in levels of violence.
In a PI authored article in the series, Communities are not all created equal: Strategies to prevent violence affecting youth in the United States, our own Larry Cohen, Anna Realini, and Rachel Davis detail how comprehensive strategies to improve community conditions can reduce violence and promote health equity. The article describes how PI tools and frameworks, used by our Urban Networks to Increase Thriving Youth (UNITY) cities, can be adapted for international application in multi-sector collaboration, influencing policy and legislation, and strengthening local violence prevention efforts.
The Journal of Public Health Policy special issue and the UN’s 2030 Agenda recognize that before our communities can be healthy, equitable, and resilient, they must be safe. This is a critical time to take what we know about how to prevent violence and build a sustainable, collaborative movement to mobilize political will, shift the public understanding of violence, invest in communities of greatest need, advance a comprehensive policy agenda, challenge and change the norms that perpetuate violence, and scale up successful strategies to prevent violence and trauma in the first place.