IF! A Public Health based approach to tackling violence

IF Foundation is tackling violence prevention using an evidence‐based public health approach that targets the root causes and risk factors underlying the likelihood of an individual becoming involved in violence, and that recognizes the need for improved services to mitigate the harmful effects of violence when it does occur. The approach targets four levels:

  1. Individual
  2. Relationship
  3. Community
  4. Societal

This approach is science‐driven, population‐based, interdisciplinary, and intersectoral. It emphasizes primary prevention that aims to prevent violence before it occurs; is based on the ecological model that views violence not as the outcome of any single risk factor but of multiple risk factors and causes that interact at all four levels of a nested hierarchy comprising the individual, family/close relationship, community and society; and adopts a life‐course perspective based upon understanding how influences early in life can act as risk factors for problems at later stages.

INDIVIDUAL LEVEL INFLUENCES

  • are biological and personal factors that increase the likelihood of an individual becoming the victim or perpetrator of violence. These include factors such as alcohol and drug use, impulsive behaviour, a childhood history of maltreatment or witnessing domestic violence. Proven individual prevention strategies include pre-school enrichment programmes during early childhood (ages 3-5 years) and life skills training and social development programmes for children aged 6 to 18 years.

RELATIONSHIP LEVEL INFLUENCES

  • are factors within the family, and in friendship and peer networks that increase the risk of violence. Proven family prevention strategies include providing training for parents on child development, non-violent discipline and problem -solving skills and mentoring programmes to develop attachments between high risk youth and caring adults in order to build social skills and provide a sustained relationship.

SOCIETAL LEVEL INFLUENCES

  • are the larger, macro level factors that influence violence such as gender equality, societal norms, economic or social conditions that support general inequalities. In society, strategies that are proven and promising include reducing alcohol availability and misuse through enactment and enforcement of liquor licensing laws, taxation and pricing; reducing access to lethal means, including firearms, sedatives and pesticides; and promoting gender equality through strategies such as supporting the economic empowerment of women

COMMUNITY LEVEL INFLUENCES

  • include factors at school, in neighbourhoods and in workplaces that increase risk. They include a lack of education, a lack of vocational opportunities, and cultural norms that legitimize violence. Proven and promising community prevention strategies include increasing the availability and quality of childcare facilities and increasing the availability and quality of pre-school enrichment programmes.

Community

  • Firstly, because evidence shows that prevention strategies are most effective when arising from, or linking with, community engagement (Department of Planning and Community Development 2011). Secondly, community development approaches in themselves help build networks, participation and inclusion – all of which can be protective factors against community violence.