WHO Report Underscores the Need for Comprehensive Prevention Strategy and Leadership
Released yesterday by the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations, the Global Status Report on Violence Prevention 2014 calls on countries to act decisively to prevent violence in the first place. Violence is an urgent and widespread problem, and even though homicide rates in the U.S. have dropped, Prevention Institute agrees that we can bring these numbers down even more through prevention policies and practices. Prevention Institute applauds the report’s release and its thorough findings, as well as the WHO’s ongoing attention to this global public health challenge.
The report’s recommendations – such as develop data-driven, comprehensive action plans; strengthen mechanisms for leadership and coordination; and ensure comprehensive prevention strategies – are in line with actions that many U.S. cities are taking. These include developing comprehensive plans with prevention strategies, coordinating efforts across many sectors, and establishing staffing and other infrastructure to support violence prevention efforts on an ongoing basis. This is in part due to the growing prominence of a public health approach. When Prevention Institute first launched the national violence prevention initiative UNITY, Urban Networks to Increase Thriving Youth, this assessment found that cities relied solely on criminal justice and law enforcement strategies, which were not seen as especially effective or adequate. Now, 10 years later, we see that many cities have used the UNITY RoadMap and UNITY Policy Platform as guiding documents to improve safety outcomes.
The WHO’s Global Status Report on Violence Prevention 2014 also recommends the development of policies and laws relevant to multiple forms of violence. Many communities in the U.S. are already addressing community violence, child abuse and intimate partner violence at once, an emerging trend identified as part of our work with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Defending Childhood initiative. For a research overview on the links among forms of violence, read Connecting the Dots, a publication co-developed by Prevention Institute and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Violence threatens the public’s health, and a sustained focus on prevention is essential, both in the United States and on a global scale. Violence is a leading cause of death, injury and disability, and it undermines health, mental health and learning. Violence also affects the most vulnerable among us, including young people and communities of color, so preventing violence is a matter of health equity. We must all be part of the solution, and Prevention Institute is proud to stand with other WHO Global Violence Prevention Alliance members working toward safe, healthy communities everywhere.