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Violence as a Public Health Issue

"Violence is among the most serious health threats in the nation today, jeopardizing the health and safety of the public. It is a leading cause of injury, disability, and premature death; a significant disparity, disproportionately affecting young people and people of color; and it increases the risk of other poor health outcomes"  - Urban Networks to Increase Thriving Youth (UNITY)


Violence is preventable — it is a learned behavior that arises from complex, underlying issues. There are several successful approaches to reducing violence, and the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) invests considerable resources in understanding the science of violence prevention and incorporating best practices into prevention strategies.  


Our public health approach to violence is modeled after the response model for disease outbreaks:

  • We identify and monitor the problem.

  • We identify the risk and protective factors. ("Risk factors" refer to factors that make the disease  more likely to spread and "protective factors" refer to those that decrease the likelihood of the undesirable outcome or protect against it.)

  • We develop and test researched strategies to contain and stop the spread of the disease.

  • Once we've identified a strategy, we apply it as the standard method for prevention.

The public health approach to violence is carried out by a multidisciplinary team of public health partners, law enforcement, educators, community groups, and residents. The Violence Intervention and Prevention Initiative (VIP) and BPHC work with stakeholders to address violence through the lens of racial justice and frequently highlight strides made by our communities.

For more information on violence as a public health issue, visit Veto Violence and take a look at A Public Health Approach to Violence,   an article written by our partners at Urban Networks to Increase Thriving Youth (UNITY). 

Boston Public Health Commission
1010 Massachusetts Ave, 6th Floor, Boston, MA 02118.
Phone:(617) 534-5395 Email: