Violence of all forms affects our city, devastating families and communities. Violence is a health issue in need of a health approach in response.
A health approach means a focus on preventing events, providing treatment for people at the most risk and changing social expectations. It can help us better understand the root causes of gun violence by focusing on social services, education and other factors that can prevent gun violence. This differs from a criminal justice approach, which does not address how inequity and structural racism can diminish these factors and lead to gun violence in a community.
The health approach to violence encourages supportive relationships and life skills education, which can decrease violent behaviors. It also means helping communities design creative solutions to addressing gun violence.
The Health Department’s Violence Prevention Initiative (PDF) focuses on neighborhoods that have a high level of community violence. This initiative aims to reduce risk factors for violence by addressing behavioral and structural impediments and investing in neighborhoods most affected by violence.
As part of the initiative, the Health Department has partnered with several hospital-based violence intervention programs that have shown they can lower risks of reinjury and incarceration among high-risk youth and adults affected by gun violence.
When a person is hospitalized due to gun violence, these programs offer a team of providers, social workers, mental health professionals and community health workers. Their services include conflict mediation and helping patients find the right health care, including mental health support.
To learn about how you can help address gun violence in your community, check out the following programs and their events in your community.