Why is Violence a Public Health Issue?
Violence is a leading cause of injury, physical and mental disability and death. Adverse experiences, including exposure to violence, can negatively impact an individual’s ability to adopt healthy behaviors and manage stress, increasing their risk of chronic diseases and other serious health issues. Exposure to violence and chronic stress prenatally, in early childhood or adolescence has been linked to changes in the developing brain that effect mental health and the ability to learn.
The consequences of violence, for both victims and perpetrators, are costly and influence nearly all health and mental health outcomes throughout life. And just as individuals are traumatized by violence, so are communities. When violence is prevalent, entire communities can experience trauma, weakened social ties and lack of economic investment.
By joining together in the interest of statewide public health, we can maximize violence prevention efforts for greater impact and do more to recognize and address the connections among the forms of violence. Primary prevention of both violence perpetration and victimization is important. Working collectively allows greater use of resources, knowledge and expertise in ways that can protect individuals and communities from violence.
CDPH's Leadership Role
Although many effective public policy, community-based and programmatic solutions have been developed and are in place throughout California, the full range of societal resources must be engaged and mobilized to address multiple forms of violence. The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is taking the lead in highlighting and framing the role of governmental public health in addressing interpersonal and community violence.
Since January 2016, CDPH staff across programs shared data and information about current program efforts, identified opportunities and challenges, and confirmed the role of CDPH in preventing violence.
CDPH adopted the
Safe States Alliance’s recommended roles to direct the state public health department in preventing violence. These include:
Collect, analyze and disseminate data and information
Develop a statewide public health agenda
Help build local capacity
Translate research into practice
Maximize existing resources and identify potential new funding streams
Contribute to national efforts
Develop and implement policy approaches to violence prevention.
Current efforts are underway to build the CDPH Violence Prevention Initiative. These include:
Develop a statewide violence data report and expanding California’s Violent Death Reporting System;
Develop a common language and framework for understanding violence as a public health issue;
Create a plan for moving on key priorities and establishing infrastructure
For more information on the CDPH Violence Prevention Initiative, contact: