various types of weapons from assault rifles to concealable handguns.

  1. Availability of shelters for battered women and their children.

    Shelters provide opportunities for women in abusive relationships to remove themselves and their children from a situation in which violence is likely to continue or to increase. The availability of shelters, which can be represented by the number of beds or perhaps the number of women turned away in times of need (USDHHS, 1991), is one measure of the contribution of community-based, often religious, organizations that typically provide these shelters.

Physical Environment
  1. Percentage of youth reporting carrying weapons to school.

    The availability of weapons is an important situational factor in the causal chain leading to violence (NRC, 1993). From a public health perspective, reducing the number of weapons in the school environment is analogous to removing the vector that transmits disease. Data on youth possession of weapons, including guns, at school could be obtained from school records of children found with weapons or from school-based surveys.

Genetic Endowment

Although there are some preliminary reports of genetic predisposition to violent behavior, not enough is known at this time to suggest performance measures in this area.


As indicated above, a community's prosperity both depends on and affects violence. Violence carries high economic costs, not only in treating its direct effects, but in terms of pain and suffering, psychological damage, and reduced quality of life. Similarly, economic factors, especially income inequality, are important risk factors for violence. These factors, however, are difficult to measure on a community basis and are reflected in other measures proposed above, so no specific measures are proposed in this area.

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