partner violence) have been shown to have numerous noninjury health consequences, including high-risk behaviors such as alcohol and substance misuse, smoking, unsafe sex, eating disorders, and the perpetration of violence, and via these risk behaviors contribute to such leading causes of death as cardiovascular disorders, cancers, depression, diabetes, and HIV/ AIDS.3 Although the negative effects of violence are felt by all, violence also disproportionately affects the development of low- and middle-income countries. In poorer countries the economic and social impacts of violence can be very severe in terms of slowing economic growth, undermining personal and collective security, and impeding social development. Development agencies, therefore, have a major stake in preventing violence so as to ensure that their investments are not undermined by the economic and social costs of violence.
There are no simple solutions for preventing violence. Violence is, however, a public health problem that can be understood and changed. We have learned a great deal about violence prevention in recent decades, but it has become clear that violence prevention will not be achieved through a vaccination or a single piece of legislation. Rather, preventing violence will require a sustained commitment to the application of good science and the implementation of effective programs in a rapidly changing world.
We define violence as the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or a group or community that either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment, or deprivation.2 Three general types of violence are encompassed by this definition: interpersonal, self-directed, and collective. Interpersonal violence includes forms perpetrated by an individual or small group of individuals, such as child abuse and neglect by caregivers, youth violence, intimate partner violence, sexual violence, and elder abuse.2 Self-directed violence includes suicidal behavior as well as acts of self-abuse, where the intent may not be to take one’s own life.4 Collective violence is the use of violence by groups or individuals who identify themselves as members of a group, against another group or set of individuals, to achieve political, social, or economic objectives. It includes war, terrorism, and state-sponsored violence toward its own citizens.5
This paper articulates a framework for violence prevention that is grounded in the wealth of knowledge we have gained in recent decades from research and programmatic efforts in both rich and poor countries of the world. The framework content draws on carefully considered recommendations that have been presented in major international reports on violence over the past decade. These include the World Report on Violence and Health, the World Report on Violence Against Children, the Secretary General’s In-depth Study of All Forms of Violence Against Women, and the chapter on interpersonal violence in the second edition of Disease Control