Violence is defined by the World Health Organization as "the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, which either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment, or deprivation," although the group acknowledges that the inclusion of "the use of power" in its definition expands on the conventional understanding of the word.Krug et al., "World report on violence and health" , World Health Organization, 2002.
Globally, violence resulted in the deaths of an estimated 1.28 million people in 2013 up from 1.13 million in 1990. Of the deaths in 2013, roughly 842,000 were attributed to self-harm (suicide), 405,000 to interpersonal violence, and 31,000 to collective violence (war) and legal intervention. In Africa, out of every 100,000 people, each year an estimated 60.9 die a violent death.awake Aug 8/05 pp. 4-7 Corlin, past president of the American Medical Association said: "The United States leads the world—in the rate at which its children die from firearms." He concluded: "Gun violence is a threat to the public health of our country."Awake Jul 8/2003 pp. 5-9 For each single death due to violence, there are dozens of hospitalizations, hundreds of emergency department visits, and thousands of doctors' appointments. "Global Burden of Disease" , World Health Organization, 2008. Furthermore, violence often has lifelong consequences for physical and mental health and social functioning and can slow economic and social development.
In 2013, assault by firearm was the leading cause of death due to interpersonal violence, with 180,000 such deaths estimated to have occurred. The same year, assault by sharp object resulted in roughly 114,000 deaths, with a remaining 110,000 deaths from personal violence being attributed to other causes.
Violence in many forms is preventable. There is a strong relationship between levels of violence and modifiable factors such as concentrated poverty, income and gender inequality, the harmful use of alcohol, and the absence of safe, stable, and nurturing relationships between children and parents. Strategies addressing the underlying causes of violence can be effective in preventing violence.WHO / Liverpool JMU Centre for Public Health, "Violence Prevention: The evidence" , 2010.
Violent acts can be:
This initial categorization differentiates between violence a person inflicts upon himself or herself, violence inflicted by another individual or by a small group of individuals, and violence inflicted by larger groups such as states, organized political groups, militia groups and terrorist organizations. These three broad categories are each divided further to reflect more specific types of violence.
This typology, while imperfect and far from being universally accepted, does provide a useful framework for understanding the complex patterns of violence taking place around the world, as well as violence in the everyday lives of individuals, families and communities. It also overcomes many of the limitations of other typologies by capturing the nature of violent acts, the relevance of the setting, the relationship between the perpetrator and the victim, and – in the case of collective violence – possible motivations for the violence. However, in both research and practice, the dividing lines between the different types of violence are not always so clear.. State violence also involves upholding, forms of violence of a structural nature, such as poverty, through dismantling welfare, creating strict policies such as 'welfare to work', in order to cause further stimulation and disadvantage Poverty as a form of violence may involve oppressive policies that specifically target minority or low socio-economic groups. The 'war on drugs', for example, rather than increasing the health and well-being of at risk demographics, most often results in violence committed against these vulnerable demographics through incarceration, stigmatization and police brutality
Since the Industrial Revolution, the lethality of modern warfare has grown. World War I casualties were over 40 million and World War II casualties were over 70 million.
Child maltreatment is a global problem with serious lifelong consequences, which is, however, complex and difficult to study.Schechter DS, Willheim E (2009). The Effects of Violent Experience and Maltreatment on Infants and Young Children. In CH Zeanah (Ed.). Handbook of Infant Mental Health—3rd Edition. New York: Guilford Press, Inc. pp. 197-214.
There are no reliable global estimates for the prevalence of child maltreatment. Data for many countries, especially low- and middle-income countries, are lacking. Current estimates vary widely depending on the country and the method of research used. Approximately 20% of women and 5–10% of men report being sexually abused as children, while 25–50% of all children report being physically abused.
Consequences of child maltreatment include impaired lifelong physical and mental health, and social and occupational functioning (e.g. school, job, and relationship difficulties). These can ultimately slow a country's economic and social development. Preventing child maltreatment before it starts is possible and requires a multisectoral approach. Effective prevention programmes support parents and teach positive parenting skills. Ongoing care of children and families can reduce the risk of maltreatment reoccurring and can minimize its consequences.
Worldwide some 250,000 homicides occur among youth 10–29 years of age each year, which is 41% of the total number of homicides globally each year ("Global Burden of Disease", World Health Organization, 2008). For each young person killed, 20-40 more sustain injuries requiring hospital treatment. Youth violence has a serious, often lifelong, impact on a person's psychological and social functioning. Youth violence greatly increases the costs of health, welfare and criminal justice services; reduces productivity; decreases the value of property; and generally undermines the fabric of society.
Prevention programmes shown to be effective or to have promise in reducing youth violence include life skills and social development programmes designed to help children and adolescents manage anger, resolve conflict, and develop the necessary social skills to solve problems; schools-based anti-bullying prevention programmes; and programmes to reduce access to alcohol, illegal drugs and guns.World Health Organization and Liverpool John Moores University. "Violence prevention: the evidence: overview" Geneva, WHO, 2009. Also, given significant neighbourhood effects on youth violence, interventions involving relocating families to less poor environments have shown promising results. Similarly, urban renewal projects such as business improvement districts have shown a reduction in youth violence.
Different types of youth on youth violence include witnessing or being involved in physical, emotional and sexual abuse (e.g. physical attacks, bullying, rape) and violent acts like gang shootings and robberies. According to researchers in 2018, "More than half of children and adolescents living in cities have experienced some form of community violence." The violence "can also all take place under one roof, or in a given community or neighborhood and can happen at the same time or at different stages of life." It seems that youth violence is on the rise due to the growing number of legal and illegal guns on the streets especially in low income neighborhoods. Youth violence has immediate and long term adverse impact whether the individual was the recipient of the violence or a witness to it. Our knowledge about the impact of trauma on the brain, mind and body is growing every day as more research studies have been conducted and results are published. "Youth violence is a leading cause of death for adolescents and young adults. Some forms of youth violence, such as bullying, slapping, or hitting, can cause severe emotional harm, nonfatal physical injuries, and long-lasting problems."
The cost to individuals, their families, and society in general is huge and rising. These people often have lifelong injuries which means ongoing doctor and hospital visits the cost of which quickly adds up. Since the victims of youth on youth violence may not be able to attend school or work because of their physical and/or mental injuries, it is often up to their family members to take care of them (including paying their daily living expenses and medical bills). Their caretakers may have to give up their jobs or work reduced hours to provide help to the victim of violence. This causes a further burden on society because the victim and maybe even their caretakers have to obtain government assistance to help pay their bills. Recent research has found that psychological trauma during childhood can change a child's brain. "Trauma is known to physically affect the brain and the body which causes anxiety, rage, and the ability to concentrate. They can also have problems remembering, trusting, and forming relationships." Since the brain becomes used to violence it may stay continually in an alert state (similar to being stuck in the fight or flight mode). "Researchers claim that the youth who are exposed to violence may have emotional, social, and cognitive problems. They may have trouble controlling emotions, paying attention in school, withdraw from friends, or show signs of post-traumatic stress disorder". Youth who do not get help and get it under control may have more issues down the line.
It is important for youth exposed to violence to understand how their bodies may react so they can take positive steps to counteract any possible short and long term negative effects (e.g., poor concentration, feelings of depression, heightened levels of anxiety). By taking immediate steps to mitigate the effects of the trauma they’ve experienced negative repercussions can be reduced or eliminated. As an initial step, the kids need to understand why they may be feeling a certain way and to understand how the violence they have experienced may be causing negative feelings and making them behave differently. Pursuing a greater awareness of their feelings, perceptions, and negative emotions is the first step that should be taken as part of recovering from the trauma they have experienced. “Neuroscience research shows that the only way we can change the way we feel is by becoming aware of our inner experience and learning to befriend what is going on inside ourselves”. If this initial awareness step is not sufficiently completed the youth may then knowingly or unknowingly resort to bullying as a way to release their own anger, compulsive behaviors (eating, drinking, drugs), anger management problems; and avoidance of social interactions. These types of behaviors may put them at an even greater risk for future violence in their lives.
Some of the ways to combat the adverse effects of exposure to youth violence would be to try various mindfulness and movement activities, deep breathing exercises and other actions that enable these kids to release their pent up emotions. Using these techniques will teach body awareness, reduce anxiety and nervousness, and reduce feelings of anger and annoyance. Over time these types of activities will help these younger victims of violence to have greater control over their feelings and behaviors and avoid unhealthy ways of coping. Another way to help trauma victims of youth violence is through the arts. This can be accomplished by giving them the opportunity to engage in drawing, painting, music, and singing which will give them an outlet to express themselves and their emotions in a positive way.
It’s been discovered that having youth who have experienced violence benefit from having a close relationship with one or more people. This is important because the trauma victims need to have people who are safe and trustworthy that they can relate and talk to about their horrible experiences. Some youth do not have adult figures at home or someone they can count on for guidance and comfort. Schools in bad neighborhoods where youth violence is prevalent should assign counselors to each student so that they receive regular guidance. In addition to counseling/therapy sessions and programs, schools should offer mentoring programs where the kids can interact with adults who can be a positive influence on them. Another way is to create more neighborhood programs to ensure that each child has a positive and stable place to go when school in not in session. It doesn’t have to be a formal organization just a place where the kids can have positive role models in their lives and engage in stress relieving activities (sports, yoga, and arts). Many kids have benefited from formal organizations now which aim to help mentor and provide a safe environment for the youth especially those living in neighborhoods with higher rates of violence. This includes organizations such as Becoming a Man, CeaseFire Illinois, Chicago Area Project, Little Black Pearl, and Rainbow House". These programs are designed to help give the youth a safe place to go, stop the violence from occurring, offering counseling and mentoring to help stop the cycle of violence. If the youth do not have a safe place to go after school hours they will likely get into trouble, receive poor grades, drop out of school and use drugs and alcohol. The gangs look for youth who do not have positive influences in their life and need protection. This is why these programs are so important for the youth to have a safe environment rather than resorting to the streets. For example, Derek grew up amongst the violence in Chicago in the 1980's and was even a former gang leader. It took him thirty years in a gang and time in jail to realize he was on the wrong path. He created a boxing program called "Boxing Out Negativity" which provides youth in high crime areas a safe place to get out their anger and energy. It helps them in a positive way and keeps them off the street. With the help of programs to help victims of youth violence there is a greater opportunity for these youth to turn their lives around.
Population-level surveys based on reports from victims provide the most accurate estimates of the prevalence of intimate partner violence and sexual violence in non-conflict settings. A study conducted by WHO in 10 mainly developing countriesGarcia-Moreno, C. et al. (2005). "WHO multi-country study on women’s health and domestic violence against women" Geneva: WHO found that, among women aged 15 to 49 years, between 15% (Japan) and 70% (Ethiopia and Peru) of women reported physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner.
Intimate partner and sexual violence have serious short- and long-term physical, mental, sexual and reproductive health problems for victims and for their children, and lead to high social and economic costs. These include both fatal and non-fatal injuries, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, unintended pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.
Factors associated with the perpetration and experiencing of intimate partner violence are low levels of education, history of violence as a perpetrator, a victim or a witness of parental violence, harmful use of alcohol, attitudes that are accepting of violence as well as marital discord and dissatisfaction. Factors associated only with perpetration of intimate partner violence are having multiple partners, and antisocial personality disorder.
A recent theory named "The Criminal Spin" suggests a mutual flywheel effect between partners that is manifested by an escalation in the violence. A violent spin may occur in any other forms of violence, but in Intimate partner violence the added value is the mutual spin, based on the unique situation and characteristics of intimate relationship.
The primary prevention strategy with the best evidence for effectiveness for intimate partner violence is school-based programming for adolescents to prevent violence within dating relationships. Evidence is emerging for the effectiveness of several other primary prevention strategies – those that: combine microfinance with gender equality training; promote communication and relationship skills within communities; reduce access to, and the harmful use of alcohol; and change cultural gender norms.WHO(2010). "Preventing intimate partner and sexual violence against women: Taking action and generating evidence" World Health Organization: Geneva
Population-level surveys based on reports from victims estimate that between 0.3–11.5% of women reported experiencing sexual violence.Garcia-Moreno, C. et al. (2005). "WHO multi-country study on women’s health and domestic violence against women" Geneva: WHO Sexual violence has serious short- and long-term consequences on physical, mental, sexual and reproductive health for victims and for their children as described in the section on intimate partner violence. If perpetrated during childhood, sexual violence can lead to increased smoking,Ford, S.E. et al. (2011). Adverse childhood experiences and smoking status in five states. Preventive Medicine: 43, 3, 188-193. drug and alcohol misuse, and risky sexual behaviors in later life. It is also associated with perpetration of violence and being a victim of violence.
Many of the risk factors for sexual violence are the same as for domestic violence. Risk factors specific to sexual violence perpetration include beliefs in family honor and sexual purity, ideologies of male sexual entitlement and weak legal sanctions for sexual violence.
Few interventions to prevent sexual violence have been demonstrated to be effective. School-based programmes to prevent child sexual abuse by teaching children to recognize and avoid potentially sexually abusive situations are run in many parts of the world and appear promising, but require further research. To achieve lasting change, it is important to enact legislation and develop policies that protect women; address discrimination against women and promote gender equality; and help to move the culture away from violence.
While there is little information regarding the extent of maltreatment in elderly populations, especially in developing countries, it is estimated that 4–6% of elderly people in high-income countries have experienced some form of maltreatment at homeSethi et al. "WHO European report on preventing elder maltreatment" , 2011 However, older people are often afraid to report cases of maltreatment to family, friends, or to the authorities. Data on the extent of the problem in institutions such as hospitals, nursing homes and other long-term care facilities are scarce. Elder maltreatment can lead to serious physical injuries and long-term psychological consequences. Elder maltreatment is predicted to increase as many countries are experiencing rapidly ageing populations.
Many strategies have been implemented to prevent elder maltreatment and to take action against it and mitigate its consequences including public and professional awareness campaigns, screening (of potential victims and abusers), caregiver support interventions (e.g. stress management, respite care), adult protective services and self-help groups. Their effectiveness has, however, not so far been well-established.Pillemer K et al. "Interventions to prevent elder mistreatment". In: Doll LS et al., eds. Handbook of injury and violence prevention. New York, Springer, 2008.
The first level identifies biological and personal factors that influence how individuals behave and increase their likelihood of becoming a victim or perpetrator of violence: demographic characteristics (age, education, income), genetics, brain lesions, personality disorders, substance abuse, and a history of experiencing, witnessing, or engaging in violent behaviour.
The second level focuses on close relationships, such as those with family and friends. In youth violence, for example, having friends who engage in or encourage violence can increase a young person’s risk of being a victim or perpetrator of violence. For intimate partner violence, a consistent marker at this level of the model is marital conflict or discord in the relationship. In elder abuse, important factors are stress due to the nature of the past relationship between the abused person and the care giver.
The third level explores the community context—i.e., schools, workplaces, and neighbourhoods. Risk at this level may be affected by factors such as the existence of a local drug trade, the absence of social networks, and concentrated poverty. All these factors have been shown to be important in several types of violence.
Finally, the fourth level looks at the broad societal factors that help to create a climate in which violence is encouraged or inhibited: the responsiveness of the criminal justice system, social and cultural norms regarding gender roles or parent-child relationships, income inequality, the strength of the social welfare system, the social acceptability of violence, the availability of weapons, the exposure to violence in mass media, and political instability.
Based on the idea of human nature, scientists do agree violence is inherent in humans. Among prehistoric humans, there is archaeological evidence for both contentions of violence and peacefulness as primary characteristics.Heather Whipps, Peace or War? How early humans behaved , LiveScience.Com, March 16, 2006.
Since violence is a matter of perception as well as a measurable phenomenon, psychologists have found variability in whether people perceive certain physical acts as "violent". For example, in a state where execution is a legalized punishment we do not typically perceive the executioner as "violent", though we may talk, in a more metaphorical way, of the state acting violently. Likewise, understandings of violence are linked to a perceived aggressor-victim relationship: hence psychologists have shown that people may not recognise defensive use of force as violent, even in cases where the amount of force used is significantly greater than in the original aggression.
The "violent male ape" image is often brought up in discussions of human violence. Dale Peterson and "Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence" write that violence is inherent in humans, though not inevitable. However, William L. Ury, editor of a book called "Must We Fight? From the Battlefield to the Schoolyard—A New Perspective on Violent Conflict and Its Prevention" criticizes the "killer ape" myth in his book which brings together discussions from two Harvard Law School symposiums. The conclusion is that "we also have lots of natural mechanisms for cooperation, to keep conflict in check, to channel aggression, and to overcome conflict. These are just as natural to us as the aggressive tendencies."Cindy Fazzi, the "killer ape" myth, Dispute Resolution Journal, May–July 2002.
The psychiatrist James Gilligan argues that most violent behavior represents an effort to eliminate feelings of shame and humiliation, which he calls "the death of self".
In an article entitled "The History of Violence" in The New Republic, Steven Pinker posits that, on average, the amount and cruelty of violence to humans and animals has decreased over the last few centuries.Steven Pinker, The History of Violence , The New Republic, March 19, 2007.
Pinker's observation of the decline in interpersonal violence echoes the work of Norbert Elias, who attributes the decline to a "civilizing process", in which the state's monopolization of violence, the maintenance of socioeconomic interdependencies or "figurations", and the maintenance of behavioural codes in culture all contribute to the development of individual sensibilities, which increase the repugnance of individuals towards violent acts.
Some scholars disagree with the argument that all violence is decreasing arguing that not all types of violent behaviour are lower now than in the past. They suggest that research typically focuses on lethal violence, often looks at homicide rates of death due to warfare, but ignore the less obvious forms of violence.Gorelik, G., Shackelford, T.K., Weekes-Shackelford, V.A., 2012. Resource Acquisition, Violence, and Evolutionary Consciousness. In: Shackelford, T.K., Weekes- Shackelford, V.A. (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Evolutionary Perspectives on Violence, Homicide, and War. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 506–524 However, non-lethal violence, such as assaults or bullying appear to be declining as well.Finkelhor, D., Turner, H., Ormrod, R., & Hamby, S. "Structural Trends in childhood violence and abuse exposure: Evidence from 2 national surveys." Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine 164.3 (2010): 238-242. In his article "The Coming Anarchy", Robert D. Kaplan introduces the notion of liberating violence. According to Kaplan, we will observe more violent in the future, which will be fought due to economic inequalities around the world. "The Coming Anarchy" , Robert D. Kaplan, The Atlantic, 1994
The concept of violence normalization, is known as socially sanctioned or structural violence, and is a topic of increasing interest to researchers trying to understand violent behavior. It has been discussed at length by researchers in sociology, medical anthropology,Farmer, Paul, M. Connors, and J. Simmons, eds. Women, Poverty, and Aids: Sex, Drugs, and Structural Violence. Monroe: Common Courage Press, 1996.Scheper-Hughes, Nancy. Death without Weeping: The Violence of Everday Life in Brazil. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992. psychology,Winter, Deborah DuNann, and Dana C. Leighton. "Section Ii: Structural Violence." Peace, Conflict, and Violence: Peace Psychology for the 21st Century. Eds. Christie, Daniel J., Richard V. Wagner and Deborah DuNann Winter. New York: Prentice-Hall, 2001. 99-101. philosophy, and bioarchaeology.Martin, Debra L., Ryan P. Harrod, and Ventura R. Pérez, eds. 2012. The Bioarchaeology of Violence. Edited by C. S. Larsen, Bioarchaeological Interpretations of the Human Past: Local, regional, and global perspectives Gainesville: University Press of Florida.
Evolutionary psychology offers several explanations for human violence in various contexts, such as sexual jealousy in humans, child abuse, and homicide.Wilson, Margo, and Martin Daly. Homicide. Hawthorne: Aldine de Gruyter, 1988. Goetz (2010) argues that humans are similar to most mammal species and use violence in specific situations. He writes that "Buss and Shackelford (1997a) proposed seven adaptive problems our ancestors recurrently faced that might have been solved by aggression: co-opting the resources of others, defending against attack, inflicting costs on same-sex rivals, negotiating status and hierarchies, deterring rivals from future aggression, deterring mate from infidelity, and reducing resources expended on genetically unrelated children."
Goetz writes that most seem to start from relatively trivial disputes between unrelated men who then escalate to violence and death. He argues that such conflicts occur when there is a status dispute between men of relatively similar status. If there is a great initial status difference, then the lower status individual usually offers no challenge and if challenged the higher status individual usually ignores the lower status individual. At the same an environment of great inequalities between people may cause those at the bottom to use more violence in attempts to gain status.
However, German political theorist Hannah Arendt noted: "Violence can be justifiable, but it never will be legitimate ... Its justification loses in plausibility the farther its intended end recedes into the future. No one questions the use of violence in self-defence, because the danger is not only clear but also present, and the end justifying the means is immediate".. Arendt made a clear distinction between violence and power. Most political theorists regarded violence as an extreme manifestation of power whereas Arendt regarded the two concepts as opposites.Arendt, H. (1972) On Violence in Crises in the Republic, Florida, Harcourt, Brace and Company, pp 134-155. In the 20th century in acts of democide governments may have killed more than 260 million of their own people through police brutality, execution, massacre, slave labour camps, and sometimes through intentional famine.
Violent acts that are not carried out by the military or police and that are not in self-defense are usually classified as crimes, although not all crimes are . Property damage is classified as violent crime in some jurisdictions but not in all. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) classifies violence resulting in homicide into murder and justifiable homicide (e.g. self-defense)..
The criminal justice approach sees its main task as enforcing laws that proscribe violence and ensuring that "justice is done". The notions of individual blame, responsibility, guilt, and culpability are central to criminal justice's approach to violence and one of the criminal justice system's main tasks is to "do justice", i.e. to ensure that offenders are properly identified, that the degree of their guilt is as accurately ascertained as possible, and that they are punished appropriately. To prevent and respond to violence, the criminal justice approach relies primarily on deterrence, incarceration and the punishment and rehabilitation of perpetrators.M. Moore "Public Health and Criminal Justice Approaches to Prevention."1992. In Vol. 16 of Crime and Justice: A Review of Research, edited by M. Tonry. Chicago: University of Chicago Press
The criminal justice approach, beyond justice and punishment, has traditionally emphasized indicated interventions, aimed at those who have already been involved in violence, either as victims or as perpetrators. One of the main reasons offenders are arrested, prosecuted, and convicted is to prevent further crimes – through deterrence (threatening potential offenders with criminal sanctions if they commit crimes), incapacitation (physically preventing offenders from committing further crimes by locking them up) and through rehabilitation (using time spent under state supervision to develop skills or change one's psychological make-up to reduce the likelihood of future offences).
In recent decades in many countries in the world, the criminal justice system has taken an increasing interest in preventing violence before it occurs. For instance, much of community and problem-oriented policing aims to reduce crime and violence by altering the conditions that foster it – and not to increase the number of arrests. Indeed, some police leaders have gone so far as to say the police should primarily be a crime prevention agency.Bratton W (with Knobler P). Turnaround: how America's top cop reversed the crime epidemic. New York: Random House, 1998 Juvenile justice systems – an important component of criminal justice systems – are largely based on the belief in rehabilitation and prevention. In the US, the criminal justice system has, for instance, funded school- and community-based initiatives to reduce children's access to guns and teach conflict resolution. In 1974, the US Department of Justice assumed primary responsibility for delinquency prevention programmes and created the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, which has supported the "Blueprints for violence prevention" programme at the University of Colorado Boulder.Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence "Blueprints for violence prevention/
From a public health perspective, prevention strategies can be classified into three types:
A public health approach emphasizes the primary prevention of violence, i.e. stopping them from occurring in the first place. Until recently, this approach has been relatively neglected in the field, with the majority of resources directed towards secondary or tertiary prevention. Perhaps the most critical element of a public health approach to prevention is the ability to identify underlying causes rather than focusing upon more visible "symptoms". This allows for the development and testing of effective approaches to address the underlying causes and so improve health.
The public health approach is an evidence-based and systematic process involving the following four steps:
In many countries, violence prevention is still a new or emerging field in public health. The public health community has started only recently to realize the contributions it can make to reducing violence and mitigating its consequences. In 1949, Gordon called for injury prevention efforts to be based on the understanding of causes, in a similar way to prevention efforts for communicable and other diseases.Gordon JE, "The epidemiology of accidents," American Journal of Public Health, 1949; 504–15. In 1962, Gomez, referring to the WHO definition of health, stated that it is obvious that violence does not contribute to "extending life" or to a "complete state of well-being". He defined violence as an issue that public health experts needed to address and stated that it should not be the primary domain of lawyers, military personnel, or politicians.
However, it is only in the last 30 years that public health has begun to address violence, and only in the last fifteen has it done so at the global level. This is a much shorter period of time than public health has been tackling other health problems of comparable magnitude and with similarly severe lifelong consequences.
The global public health response to interpersonal violence began in earnest in the mid-1990s. In 1996, the World Health Assembly adopted Resolution WHA49.25 "WHA49.25 Prevention of violence: a public health priority" which declared violence "a leading worldwide public health problem" and requested that the World Health Organization (WHO) initiate public health activities to (1) document and characterize the burden of violence, (2) assess the effectiveness of programmes, with particular attention to women and children and community-based initiatives, and (3) promote activities to tackle the problem at the international and national levels. The World Health Organization's initial response to this resolution was to create the Department of Violence and Injury Prevention and Disability and to publish the World report on violence and health (2002).
The case for the public health sector addressing interpersonal violence rests on four main arguments. First, the significant amount of time health care professionals dedicate to caring for victims and perpetrators of violence has made them familiar with the problem and has led many, particularly in emergency departments, to mobilize to address it. The information, resources, and infrastructures the health care sector has at its disposal are an important asset for research and prevention work. Second, the magnitude of the problem and its potentially severe lifelong consequences and high costs to individuals and wider society call for population-level interventions typical of the public health approach. Third, the criminal justice approach, the other main approach to addressing violence (link to entry above), has traditionally been more geared towards violence that occurs between male youths and adults in the street and other public places – which makes up the bulk of homicides in most countries – than towards violence occurring in private settings such as child maltreatment, intimate partner violence and elder abuse – which makes up the largest share of non-fatal violence. Fourth, evidence is beginning to accumulate that a science-based public health approach is effective at preventing interpersonal violence.
Derek Gregory and Alan Pred assembled the influential edited collection Violent Geographies: Fear, Terror, and Political Violence, which demonstrates how place, space, and landscape are foremost factors in the real and imagined practices of organized violence both historically and in the present.Gregory, Derek and Pred, Alan , 2006 Violent Geographies: Fear, Terror, and Political Violence. London: Routledge. Evidently, political violence often gives a part for the state to play. When "modern states not only claim a monopoly of the legitimate means of violence; they also routinely use the threat of violence to enforce the rule of law", the law not only becomes a form of violence but is violence. Philosopher Giorgio Agamben's concepts of state of exception and homo sacer are useful to consider within a geography of violence. The state, in the grip of a perceived, potential crisis (whether legitimate or not) takes preventative legal measures, such as a suspension of rights (it is in this climate, as Agamben demonstrates, that the formation of the Social Democratic and Nazi government's lager or concentration camp can occur). However, when this "in limbo" reality is designed to be in place "until further notice…the state of exception thus ceases to be referred to as an external and provisional state of factual danger and comes to be confused with juridical rule itself".Agamben, G. (1998) Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life, Stanford University Press, Stanford. For Agamben, the physical space of the camp "is a piece of land placed outside the normal juridical order, but it is nevertheless not simply an external space". At the scale of the body, in the state of exception, a person is so removed from their rights by "juridical procedures and deployments of power" that "no act committed against them could appear any longer as a crime"; in other words, people become only homo sacer. Guantanamo Bay could also be said to represent the physicality of the state of exception in space, and can just as easily draw man as homo sacer.
In the 1970s, genocides in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot resulted in the deaths of over two million Cambodians (which was 25% of the Cambodian population), forming one of the many contemporary examples of state-sponsored violence.Ringer, G. (2002) "Killing Fields", in Christensen, K. and Levinson, D. eds. Encyclopedia of Modern Asia, Charles Scribner's Sons, New York: 368-370. About fourteen thousand of these murders occurred at Choeung Ek, which is the best-known of the extermination camps referred to as the Killing Fields. The killings were arbitrary; for example, a person could be killed for wearing glasses, since that was seen as associating them with intellectuals and therefore as making them part of the enemy. People were murdered with impunity because it was no crime; Cambodians were made homo sacer in a condition of bare life. The Killing Fields—manifestations of Agamben's concept of camps beyond the normal rule of law—featured the state of exception. As part of Pol Pot's "ideological intent…to create a purely agrarian society or cooperative", he "dismantled the country's existing economic infrastructure and depopulated every urban area". Forced movement, such as this forced movement applied by Pol Pot, is a clear display of structural violence. When "symbols of Cambodian society were equally disrupted, social institutions of every kind…were purged or torn down", cultural violence (defined as when "any aspect of culture such as language, religion, ideology, art, or cosmology is used to legitimize direct or structural violence") is added to the structural violence of forced movement and to the direct violence, such as murder, at the Killing Fields. Vietnam eventually intervened and the genocide officially ended. However, ten million landmines left by opposing guerillas in the 1970s continue to create a violent landscape in Cambodia.
Human geography, though coming late to the theorizing table, has tackled violence through many lenses, including anarchist geography, feminist geography, Marxist geography, political geography, and critical geography. However, Adriana Cavarero notes that, "as violence spreads and assumes unheard-of forms, it becomes difficult to name in contemporary language".Cavarero, A. (2009) Horrorism: Naming Contemporary Violence, Columbia University Press, New York. Cavarero proposes that, in facing such a truth, it is prudent to reconsider violence as "horrorism"; that is, "as though ideally all the…victims, instead of their killers, ought to determine the name". With geography often adding the forgotten spatial aspect to theories of social science, rather than creating them solely within the discipline, it seems that the self-reflexive contemporary geography of today may have an extremely important place in this current (re)imaging of violence, exemplified by Cavarero.
By way of comparison, the 1.5 millions deaths a year due to violence is greater than the number of deaths due to tuberculosis (1.34 million), road traffic injuries (1.21 million), and malaria (830'000), but slightly less than the number of people who die from HIV/AIDS (1.77 million). "Global Burden of Disease, Disease and injury regional estimates" , World Health Organization, 2008.
For every death due to violence, there are numerous nonfatal injuries. In 2008, over 16 million cases of non-fatal violence-related injuries were severe enough to require medical attention. Beyond deaths and injuries, forms of violence such as child maltreatment, intimate partner violence, and elder maltreatment have been found to be highly prevalent.
Forms of violence such as child maltreatment and intimate partner violence are highly prevalent. Approximately 20% of women and 5–10% of men report being sexually abused as children, while 25–50% of all children report being physically abused.WHO, "Child maltreatment" , 2010. A WHO multi-country study found that between 15–71% of women reported experiencing physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner at some point in their lives.WHO, "Violence against women" , 2011.
Jared Diamond in his books Guns, Germs and Steel and The Third Chimpanzee posits that the rise of large-scale warfare is the result of advances in technology and city-states. For instance, the rise of agriculture provided a significant increase in the number of individuals that a region could sustain over hunter-gatherer societies, allowing for development of specialized classes such as soldiers, or weapons manufacturers.
In academia, the idea of the peaceful pre-history and non-violent tribal societies gained popularity with the Postcolonialism. The trend, starting in archaeology and spreading to anthropology reached its height in the late half of the 20th century.Keeley, Lawrence H. War before Civilization. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996. However, some newer research in archaeology and bioarchaeology may provide evidence that violence within and among groups is not a recent phenomenon. According to the book "The Bioarchaeology of Violence" violence is a behavior that is found throughout human history.Martin, Debra L., Ryan P. Harrod, and Ventura R. Pérez, eds. 2012. The Bioarchaeology of Violence. Gainesville: University Press of Florida.
Lawrence H. Keeley at the University of Illinois writes in War Before Civilization that 87% of tribal societies were at war more than once per year, and that 65% of them were fighting continuously. He writes that the attrition rate of numerous close-quarter clashes, which characterize endemic warfare, produces casualty rates of up to 60%, compared to 1% of the combatants as is typical in modern warfare. "Primitive Warfare" of these small groups or tribes was driven by the basic need for sustenance and violent competition. Review of book "War Before Civilization" by Lawrence H. Keeley , July 2004.
Fry explores Keeley's argument in depth and counters that such sources erroneously focus on the ethnography of hunters and gatherers in the present, whose culture and values have been infiltrated externally by modern civilization, rather than the actual archaeological record spanning some two million years of human existence. Fry determines that all present ethnographically studied tribal societies, "by the very fact of having been described and published by anthropologists, have been irrevocably impacted by history and modern colonial nation states" and that "many have been affected by state societies for at least 5000 years."
Steven Pinker argues that by every possible measure, every type of violence has drastically decreased since ancient and medieval times. A few centuries ago, for example, genocide was a standard practice in all kinds of warfare and was so common that historians did not even bother to mention it. According to Pinker, rape, murder, warfare and animal cruelty have all seen drastic declines in the 20th century. However, Pinker's analyses have met with much criticism; for example, Pinker himself, on his FAQ page, states that he does not include catastrophic ecological violence (including violence against wild or domesticated non-human animals or plants, or against ecosystems) or the violence of economic inequality and of coercive working conditions in his definition; he controversially regards these forms of violence as "metaphorical". Some critics have therefore argued that Pinker suffers from "a reductive vision of what it means to be violent."
Additionally, communities with high level of violence do not provide the level of stability and predictability vital for a prospering business economy. Individuals will be less likely to invest money and effort towards growth in such unstable and violent conditions.
In 2016, the Institute for Economics and Peace, released the Economic Value of Peace report, which estimates the economic impact of violence and conflict on the global economy, the total economic impact of violence on the world economy in 2015 was estimated to be $13.6 trillion in purchasing power parity terms.
Both supporters and opponents of the 21st-century War on Terrorism regard it largely as an ideological and religious war. John Edwards' 'Bumper Sticker' Complaint Not So Off the Mark, New Memo Shows ; Richard Clarke, Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror, Free Press; 2004; Michael Scheuer, Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror, Potomac Books Inc., June 2004; Robert Fisk, The Great War for Civilisation – The Conquest of the Middle East, Fourth Estate, London, October 2005; Leon Hadar, The Green Peril: Creating the Islamic Fundamentalist Threat , August 27, 1992; Michelle Malkin, Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week kicks off], October 22, 2007; John L. Esposito, Unholy War: Terror in the Name of Islam, Oxford University Press, USA, September 2003.
Vittorio Bufacchi describes two different modern concepts of violence, one the "minimalist conception" of violence as an intentional act of excessive or destructive force, the other the "comprehensive conception" which includes violations of rights, including a long list of human needs.
assert that capitalism is violent. They believe private property and profit survive only because police violence defends them and that capitalist economies need war to expand.Michael Albert Life After Capitalism – And Now Too. Zmag.org, December 10, 2004; Capitalism explained . They may use the term "structural violence" to describe the systematic ways in which a given social structure or institution kills people slowly by preventing them from meeting their basic needs, for example the deaths caused by diseases because of lack of medicine.Bruce Bawer, The Peace Racket , September 7, 2007.
Frantz Fanon critiqued the violence of colonialism and wrote about the counter violence of the "colonized victims."Charles E. Butterworth and Irene Gendzier. "Frantz Fanon and the Justice of Violence. "Middle East Journal, Vol. 28, No. 4 (Autumn, 1974), pp. 451-458
Throughout history, most religions and individuals like Mahatma Gandhi have preached that humans are capable of eliminating individual violence and organizing societies through purely nonviolent means. Gandhi himself once wrote: "A society organized and run on the basis of complete non-violence would be the purest anarchy."Bharatan Kumarappa, Editor, "For Pacifists," by M.K. Gandhi, Navajivan Publishing House, Ahmedabad, India, 1949. Modern political ideologies which espouse similar views include pacifist varieties of Voluntaryism, mutualism, anarchism and libertarianism.
Terence Fretheim writing about the Old Testament:
For many people, ... only physical violence truly qualifies as violence. But, certainly, violence is more than killing people, unless one includes all those words and actions that kill people slowly. The effect of limitation to a “killing fields” perspective is the widespread neglect of many other forms of violence. We must insist that violence also refers to that which is psychologically destructive, that which demeans, damages, or depersonalizes others. In view of these considerations, violence may be defined as follows: any action, verbal or nonverbal, oral or written, physical or psychical, active or passive, public or private, individual or institutional/societal, human or divine, in whatever degree of intensity, that abuses, violates, injures, or kills. Some of the most pervasive and most dangerous forms of violence are those that are often hidden from view (against women and children, especially); just beneath the surface in many of our homes, churches, and communities is abuse enough to freeze the blood. Moreover, many forms of systemic violence often slip past our attention because they are so much a part of the infrastructure of life (e.g., racism, sexism, ageism).