The past 25 years have seen a major paradigm shift in the field of violence prevention, from the assumption that violence is inevitable to a recognition that violence is preventable. As evidence-based interventions increasingly demonstrate measurable impacts on the prevalence of violence, those who work in the field of violence prevention face the challenge of finding new ways to disseminate information and to rapidly deploy or scale up new programs.
At the same time, a massive change in communications platforms and standards has occurred around the globe. These new technologies have disrupted traditional means of communication and have provided opportunities for reaching farther and wider. Furthermore, new media make it possible to empower whole groups to engage in community-based efforts to prevent violence by making available the vast body of evidence-based knowledge previously only accessible in the academic realm.
Although it is tempting to push forward quickly in order to take advantage of these opportunities, that desire should be tempered by the importance of advancing both holistically and cautiously to avoid the unintended consequences of new ideas as much as possible. The fields of communications and communications technology offer much in terms of
1 The planning committee’s role was limited to planning the workshop, and the workshop summary has been prepared by the workshop rapporteurs as a factual summary of what occurred at the workshop. Statements, recommendations, and opinions expressed are those of individual presenters and participants and are not necessarily endorsed or verified by the Forum, the Institute of Medicine, or the National Research Council, and they should not be construed as reflecting any group consensus.
out-of-the-box thinking that could assist in overcoming persistent obstacles, while the violence prevention field draws on careful and considerable scientific expertise in building successful interventions. Combining the strengths of these fields, while minimizing potential harm, could prove beneficial for preventing violence and promoting well-being around the world.
On December 8–9, 2011, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) Forum on Global Violence Prevention convened a workshop to explore the intersection of violence prevention and information and communications technology (ICT). Dubbed “mPreventViolence,”2 the workshop provided an opportunity for practitioners to engage in new and innovative thinking concerning these two fields with the goal of bridging gaps in language, processes, and mechanisms. Part of the Forum’s mandate is to engage in multisectoral, multidirectional dialogue that explores cross-cutting evidence-based approaches to violence prevention, and the Forum has convened three workshops to explore various elements of violence prevention.3 To that end, this workshop was designed to examine such approaches from multiple perspectives and at multiple levels of society. In particular, the workshop was focused on exploring the potential applications of ICT to violence prevention, drawing on experience in development, health, and the social sector as well as from industry and the private sector. Speakers were invited to share the progress and outcomes of their work and to engage in a dialogue exploring the gaps and opportunities in the field.
The workshop was planned by a formally appointed committee of the IOM, whose members created an agenda and identified relevant speakers. Because the topic is large and the field is broad, presentations at this event represent only a sample of the research currently being undertaken. Speakers were chosen to present a global, balanced perspective but by no means a comprehensive one. Working within the limitations imposed by its time and resource constraints, the planning committee members chose speakers who could provide diverse perspectives upon which further discussion could occur. The agenda for this workshop can be found in Appendix A. The
2 “m” is shorthand for “mobile,” and is often used to define the concept of the application of mobile technology to a particular field, such as health, finance, etc. Other similar terms such as “e” for “electronic,” “d” for “digital,” or “open” reflect similar concepts of differentiating traditional or analog approaches from new and innovative ones (particularly those involving new technology or communications tools). The use of “m” here reflects a growing notion that communications is increasingly mobile vs. fixed.
3 Previous workshop summaries include Preventing Violence Against Women and Children (IOM and NRC, 2011) and Social and Economic Costs of Violence (IOM and NRC, 2012). Additionally, the National Academy of Engineering sponsored a workshop in 2007, resulting in the summary Information and Communication Technology and Peacebuilding: Summary of a Workshop (NRC, 2008) that explored a similar intersection of ICT and conflict resolution.
Statement of Task
Over the past 25 years those working in the field of violence prevention have brought about a major paradigm shift from an assumption that violence is inevitable to the recognition that violence is preventable, through the application of evidence-based programs to prevent specific types of violence. As practitioners gain further insight into successful avenues of research and intervention, the ability to transport such information to new settings is crucial in advancing the field. How could traditional tools of dissemination be used more effectively? How could newer tools such as the Internet and mobile technologies be introduced into this field? How can we better translate what works in one setting to another using such tools and media?
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) will convene a 2-day workshop to explore gaps in the four areas of knowledge management (knowledge generation, integration, dissemination, and application) and how closing these gaps might accelerate violence prevention in low- and middle-income countries.
The public workshop will be organized and conducted by an ad hoc committee to examine (1) the use of traditional and new media to communicate evidence-based information for violence prevention and (2) new applications of social media and new communications technologies to prevent violence. It will also highlight evidence-based best practices from other arenas of global health where use of such tools show potential for success.
The workshop will include invited presentations and panel discussions. Experts will be drawn from the public and private sectors as well as from academic organizations to allow for multi-lateral, evidence-based discussions. An individually authored summary of the workshop will be prepared by a designated rapporteur, in accordance with institutional policy and procedures.
speakers’ presentations can also be found on the website for the workshop: www.iom.edu/mpreventviolence.
ORGANIZATION OF THE REPORT
This summary provides an account of the presentations given at the workshop. Opinions expressed within this summary are not those of the IOM, the Forum on Global Violence Prevention, or their agents but rather of the presenters themselves. Such statements are the views of the presenters and do not reflect conclusions or recommendations of a formally appointed committee. This summary was authored by designated rapporteurs based on the workshop presentations and discussions and does not represent the views of the institution, nor does it constitute a full or exhaustive overview of the field.
The workshop summary is organized thematically, covering the major topics that arose during the 2-day workshop, so as to present these issues in a larger context and in a more compelling and comprehensive way. The thematic organization also allows the summary to serve as an overview of important issues in the field; however, such an organization results in some repetition because themes are interrelated and the presented examples support several different themes and sub-themes as raised by speakers. The themes presented in this summary were the most frequent, cross-cutting, and essential elements that arose from the various presentations of the workshop, but the choice of these themes does not represent the views of the IOM or a formal consensus process.
The first part of this report consists of an introduction and four chapters which provide a summary of the workshop; the second part consists of submitted papers and commentary from speakers regarding the substance of the work they presented at the workshop. These papers were solicited from speakers in order to offer further information about their work and this field; not all speakers contributed papers. The appendixes contain additional information regarding the agenda and participants.
DEFINITIONS AND CONTEXT
Violence is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as “the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community that either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment, or deprivation” (WHO, 2002). WHO further categorizes violence into seven types: child abuse, elder abuse, sexual violence, intimate partner violence, youth violence, collective violence, and self-directed violence. This workshop examined, to various extents, the prevention of all seven types of violence.
The workshop organizers and participants took a broad definition of what the field of information and communications technology entails. To some extent, they included traditional media, including print and television. For the most part, however, speakers focused on new technologies, such as new and social media, mapping, large datasets, networks, and others. They also explored how information messaging and delivery has changed through new platforms.
The workshop explored the changing paradigm of communications and how that might be relevant to violence prevention, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. Speakers described both the current status of violence prevention and the current applicability of communications technology to health, and they offered thoughts on the intersection of all three fields. Several speakers presented examples of their work that
employed innovative uses of ICT. Because this area is a relatively new one and because technology changes at a rapid pace, many speakers presented theoretical or preliminary ideas, pointing the way toward how a body of work might be developed but by no means providing a comprehensive one at the workshop.
The next four chapters in Part I examine the four major themes that arose from participants’ presentations and discussions: Transforming Violence Prevention Through New Communications (Chapter 2), Methodological Considerations of New Communications Platforms (Chapter 3), Addressing Disparities and Vulnerabilities (Chapter 4), and Framing Violence Prevention Communication (Chapter 5). Part II includes the submitted papers, organized into two chapters: Foundations of mPreventViolence: Integrating Violence Prevention and Information and Communications Technologies (Chapter 6) and Practical Applications of mPreventViolence (Chapter 7). These papers provide speakers’ perspectives on the foundation and future of the integration of violence prevention and ICT.
Finally, the appendixes contain the workshop agenda (Appendix A) and the speakers’ biographies (Appendix B).
IOM (Institute of Medicine) and NRC (National Research Council). 2011. Preventing violence against women and children: Workshop summary. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
IOM and NRC. 2012. Social and economic costs of violence: Workshop summary. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
NRC. 2008. Information and communication technology and peacebuilding: Summary of a workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
WHO (World Health Organization). 2002. World report on violence and health. Geneva: World Health Organization.