Violence is a devastating health issue, causing and propagating health problems such as death, heart disease, and cancer. In the United States, violence is a health crisis that impacts millions, particularly women, the LGBTQ community, and low-income communities of color. We now have clear scientific evidence not only that “violence begets violence,” but also that epidemiological research methods can help us to better understand its spread. Violence of all forms costs hundreds of billions of dollars every year and it erodes the physical, psychological, social, and economic health and advancement of residents in communities nationwide.
Health-based violence prevention models utilize common public health strategies to reduce exposure to violence and focus on those at highest risk for involvement. Local investment in opportunities and new social norms is necessary to reduce risk and improve outcomes. Health leadership in the effort to reduce violence allows for alignment with other health priority areas. These strategies address inequities and racial biases that allow violence to continue. Many of the factors that increase the likelihood of violence fall into the category of the social determinants of health with the presence of violence being a social determinant itself. It is time to address violence as a health crisis and activate our nation's healthcare and public health systems and methods to work with communities and other sectors to end this epidemic.