In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Violence Prevention

  • Introduction
  • Introductory Works
  • Reference Works
  • Historical Books and Manuscripts
  • Evidence-Based Practice Guidelines
  • Policies
  • Suicide Prevention
  • Collective Violence
  • Gun-Related Violence
  • Violence Related to Alcohol and Other Substances
  • Workplace Violence

Public Health Violence Prevention
Andrés Villaveces
  • LAST REVIEWED: 14 October 2022
  • LAST MODIFIED: 23 May 2012
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756797-0026


Violence as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) is 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. Violence prevention or the prevention of intentional injuries is part of the subtopic of injury prevention, as it is understood from a public health perspective. Violence prevention addresses all forms of violence, including violence perpetrated between individuals (interpersonal violence) or between groups, or collective violence (i.e., war), and self-inflicted violence (i.e., self-abuse and suicide). This classification is known as the typology of violence according to the WHO and can be manifested in different forms such as physical, psychological, or sexual violence, or as neglect. It can also be explained by the type of violence inflicted on individuals throughout their lifespan, by the use of violence against persons of different sex, or by the types of weapons or factors involved in the perpetration of violence (such as firearms or alcohol). Violent behaviors have multiple manifestations, including child abuse and neglect, violence against women or intimate partners and within families, youth violence, abuse against older persons, suicide, and collective violence. Other forms of violence include hate crimes, such as those directed towards minority races, immigrants, persons with different sexual orientations, or some religious groups. The prevention of violence follows strategies that involve multiple disciplines and includes actions aimed at modifying human behaviors, establishing legal conditions or frameworks to promote safety, or using physical or engineering modifications to reduce risks or improve safety. Public health interventions to prevent or control violence include primary prevention activities (preventing violence before it happens), secondary prevention activities (mitigating the effects of violence), and tertiary prevention activities (treating the consequences of violence and providing rehabilitation).

Introductory Works

World Health Organization 1996 provides a framework for addressing violence from a public health perspective. The most comprehensive resources for understanding violence prevention from this perspective can be found through resources available from the WHO’s Department of Violence and Injury Prevention and Disability and through several WHO publications (Violence Publications and Resources) and capacity-building tools such as TEACH-VIP. Additionally, the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control provides useful information with a greater focus on the United States. These resources provide the conceptual framework and factual information that enables readers to understand the public health perspective of violence prevention and define violence in all its forms. These resources additionally provide clear information on what risk factors are involved in the perpetration of violence and how the control of these risk factors can contribute to the prevention or reduction of violence in diverse populations. In addition, publications such as National Committee for Injury Prevention and Control 1989 and World Health Organization 1996 provide justification for the need to study and use more resources to prevent violence in populations. Other resources such as the SafetyLit meta-site provide useful resources on a variety of injury topics.

  • National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC).

    This comprehensive website provides evidence of research on violence prevention, with eight subsections. It provides free materials for communities, aimed at improving the understanding of violence and violence prevention. Also contains the WISQARS (Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System) database, which has statistical information on violence-related events in the United States.

  • National Committee for Injury Prevention and Control. 1989. Injury prevention: Meeting the challenge. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

    This is an essential read that discusses the basic scientific approach to injuries and violence prevention and puts it in the context of the US health situation. It addresses the United States’ Healthy People goals for improving the health of Americans and focuses on the techniques used to identify injury problems, to develop prevention activities, and to evaluate interventions.

  • SafetyLit.

    This meta-site provides links to multiple injury-related web resources, including organizations, journals, and scientific and policy-relevant literature. It contains a searchable, archived database organized by themes related to violence and injuries. It is supported by San Diego State University and is published in collaboration with the WHO.

  • World Health Organization. 1996. Prevention of violence: A public health priority. WHA 49.25. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization.

    This 49th World Health Assembly Resolution was instrumental in giving a mandate to the WHO for studying the problem of violence globally.

  • World Health Organization. TEACH-VIP.

    Comprehensive training tool for public health practitioners addressing the public health approach to violence prevention and injuries. It contains a basic module of twenty-one lessons and thirty-nine sessions in the advanced modules on multiple injury topics. Modules 1–6 focus on overall injury concepts. Modules 16–30 focus on violence prevention. Modules 31–33 focus on care of victims; modules 34–39, on ethical and policy issues.

  • World Health Organization. Capacity-Building Resources.

    This web page section contains information and resources useful for training individuals on how to prevent and control violence and injuries. It includes access to publications focusing on injuries in general (TEACH-VIP), how to document interpersonal violence programs, and how to care for victims of sexual violence.

  • World Health Organization. Violence and Injury Prevention and Disability (VIP).

    This web page provides access to a variety of reference publications with a global focus on a wide variety of areas related to injuries and violence prevention. It provides free access to multiple review and reference publications related to violence prevention and facts about violence in a global setting.

  • World Health Organization. Violence Publications and Resources.

    This web page contains essential readings addressing violence prevention strategies, providing facts about the problem and evidence of programs that work. It also includes policy-related publications and a synthesis of economic evaluations of the consequences of violence on health.

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