and primary prevention promotes healthy environments and behaviors to head off problems before the onset of symptoms.

Ten ways of thinking about the value of prevention are the following:

  1. Direct costs of not preventing violence
  2. Indirect costs of not preventing violence
  3. Savings due to prevention
  4. Advantages of a prevention approach
  5. Partnerships and multisector collaboration
  6. A good solution solves multiple problems
  7. Prevention works
  8. Multiplier effect
  9. Efficient government
  10. Prevention reduces suffering and saves lives

Direct Costs of Not Preventing Violence

One way to appreciate the value of preventing violence is to understand the costs of violence. A single violent incident is far more expensive than many realize. For example:

  • Every fatal assault costs $4,906 on average, with another $1.3 million in lost productivity (Corso et al., 2007).
  • Every nonfatal assault costs approximately $1,000 on average, with $2,822 in lost productivity (Corso et al., 2007).
  • The economic cost of violent deaths was $47.2 billion in 2005. This includes medical treatment and lost future wages (CDC, 2011).
  • The cost of sexual and domestic violence exceeded $5.8 billion— $319 million for rape, $4.2 billion for physical assault, and $1.75 billion in lost earnings and productivity (National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, 2003).

On top of the cost to the government and the taxpayer for each individual act of violence, add the expense of long-term incarceration for perpetrators:

  • The American Correctional Association estimates that it costs states an average of $240.99 per day—around $88,000 a year—for every young person housed in a juvenile facility in 2008 (Justice Policy Institute, 2009).
  • States spent approximately $5.7 billion to imprison 64,558 young people across the United States in 2007 (Puzzanchera and Sickmund, 2008).


The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement