7.4.7. Prevention of interpersonal violence
Interpersonal violence is an issue of growing public
concern and includes domestic violence, child abuse, abuse of the elderly and
youth violence. Interpersonal violence takes many forms (physical, mental and
sexual) and occurs in different environments (in the family, between intimate
partners, in the community, in institutions and at work). It undermines the
social and economic conditions in society (European Commission, 2006).
No single factor explains why some individuals behave
violently towards others or why violence is more prevalent in some communities
than in others. Violence is the result of the complex interplay of individual,
relationship, social, cultural and environmental factors. Understanding how
these factors are related to violence is one of the important steps in the
public health approach to preventing violence.
Because violence is a multifaceted problem with
biological, psychological, social and environmental roots, it needs to be
confronted on several different levels at once (WHO, 2002).
The recording of violence by the police is neither
sufficiently accurate nor detailed. In addition, the issue is heavily
under-reported due to the reluctance of victims to report these events. In the
framework of the Public Health Programme of the DG Sanco, improved reporting
techniques will be developed in order to get better estimates of the size of
the problem. To supplement the limited data available from police records
efforts will be made to integrate information on ‘hidden’ forms of violence
available from crime victimisation surveys. This might involve the development
of a harmonised survey or module by the European Statistical System.
There is a need for more systematic documentation and
dissemination of violence prevention practices, in particular involving the
health sector in collaboration with the police, justice and welfare system.
Stakeholders need to be empowered by the provision of tools for planning,
implementing and evaluating violence prevention projects.
Dealing with violence on a range of levels involves
addressing all of the following issues:
individual risk factors and taking steps to modify individual risk behaviours;
close personal relationships and working to create healthy family environments,
as well as providing professional help and support for dysfunctional families;
public places such as schools, workplaces and neighbourhoods and taking steps
to address problems that might lead to violence;
gender inequality, and adverse cultural attitudes and practices; and
the larger cultural, social and economic factors that contribute to violence
and taking steps to change them, including measures to close the gap between
the rich and poor and to ensure equitable access to goods, services and
opportunities. (WHO, 2002)
Actions in this domain will be initiated in close
collaboration with other Community programmes such as the DAPHNE Programme.
Recommended entry points for searching policy guidance on suicide prevention
and the prevention of interpersonal violence are the homepages of the World
Health Organization www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention