Violence is an epidemic in American cities, particularly among youth. It is the leading cause of injury and death for young people aged 10-24, and in many of the country’s largest urban areas, homicides and violent crime rose significantly in recent years. Meanwhile, 46 million of the nation’s 76 million children - roughly 60 percent - are exposed each year to violence, crime and abuse according to the National Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence. The result: the nation pays a high price in lives, money and lost potential.
By partnering with community leaders, law enforcement, schools, hospitals, businesses, libraries, faith-based organizations, and other stakeholders to address complex issues, local health officials across the nation are committed to stopping violence. They act as safety net providers and connect family members to programs like parenting support, home visits, injury and violence prevention, and intimate partner violence screening.
Click below to explore data on violence and it's impact on health.
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Many cities look to law enforcement-driven policies to stem violence, but in recent years, more and more cities have taken a public health approach to violence. Boston, Kansas City and Minneapolis are among those showing that when violence—and its root causes—is addressed as a contagious disease, significant progress can be made in reducing and preventing it.
In Boston, where violence is the leading cause of death among Black and Latino children and nearly 50 percent of high school students report knowing someone who has been shot or killed, the Boston Public Health Commission has been working hand-in-hand with the police department and other city agencies to address and prevent youth violence. Its Division of Violence Prevention has invested in strategies that prevent violence through skill development for children and youth, training and capacity building among providers, and effective service delivery to individuals who have experienced violence, and resident leadership.
From 2002 to 2011, in the City of Minneapolis, homicide was the leading cause of death among residents ages 15 to 24, accounting for 39 percent of deaths in this age group. Nationally, homicide was the third leading cause of death for this age group during that time.
In 2008, the City of Minneapolis implemented a multi-faceted, multi-sector plan, called Blueprint for Action: Preventing Youth Violence.
Kansas City officials began addressing violence as a contagious disease a decade ago. That’s when a city-appointed commission issued a report recommending that violence be treated like a public health issue, not from a traditional policing approach, to reduce the city’s consistently high annual homicide rates.