40. Interpersonal Violence


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Gabe Palmer/Corbis

Interpersonal violence can be addressed with the combined use of scientific method, preventive action, and collaboration between health and criminal justice authorities, among other groups within the community. Interpersonal violence is described as either "family," occurring between related individuals and domestic partners, or community violence between acquaintances or strangers. Risk factors, which modify the frequency and degree of violence, include those affecting the individual, relationships, the community, and society at large. The consequences of violence fall into one of four distinct groups: injuries and disabilities, mental health and resultant behavioral changes, consequences regarding reproductive health, and other considerations. Violence often creates a burden larger than the initial act itself, taking the form of physical and psychological disability. As such, health care benefits most from the prevention of violence, unlike law enforcement, which focuses its efforts primarily after the fact.

The same characteristics that affect the frequency of interpersonal violence within a nation, such as unstable social and political structures as well as warfare, make the country less able to monitor interpersonal violence and implement effective antiviolence initiatives. Intervening, however, in the earliest years of life may reduce the possibilities of an individual using violence. The primary methods of prevention happen before violence occurs and come from cultural perceptions of violence, limiting access to lethal weapons, improving parenting, and instituting programs aimed at children. Secondary methods address the immediate effects of violent incidents, while tertiary concerns attend to the long–term consequences of interpersonal violence. A five–faceted plan allows each country to address interpersonal violence: more accurate data collection, increased research, an emphasis on primary prevention, more widely available victim support services, and a national anti–interpersonal violence prevention plan.