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Violence like an infectious disease, says Faculty of Public Health report

Public health professionals can help break the cycle of violence in families and communities, according to a major position paper published today (9/12/2016).

The Faculty of Public Health’s (FPH) document compares violence to an infectious disease that is passed from one generation to the next and between communities.

Launching the document today, FPH President John Middleton, who co-authored the paper, said: “The public health profession has a key role in preventing violence. By working in partnership with other agencies and sharing information it can minimise the risk of child abuse, domestic violence and attacks in the street or flashpoints such as the pub.

“We can both break the cycle of violence and help change attitudes so it is seen as unacceptable.”

By making the case for a fairer and healthier society, Professor Middleton said, public health professionals can help create a more peaceful society.

“Health promotion is peace promotion: reducing inequalities reduces the root causes of much violent conflict. The evidence shows a strong link between inequality and violence so public health professionals should promote polices and services that reduce inequality and deprivation.”

Urging policymakers to embrace the “strong evidence base” around violence prevention, Professor Middleton called for investment in measures that can prevent violence – such as parenting classes, early years’ interventions and alcohol misuse treatment.

He added: “Given the level of alcohol-fuelled violence, the Government should also introduce minimum unit pricing for alcohol given the level of alcohol-fuelled violence.”

The role of public health in the prevention of violence: a statement from the United Kingdom Faculty of Public Health sets out the public health approach to violence prevention. This involves:

  • measuring violence-related health needs
  • identifying the root causes and possible solutions
  • making the case for effective interventions and building partnerships to prevent or reduce violence-related harm.

It also considers the profession’s role in ameliorating the impact of terrorism and war. The statement notes that people in the poorest countries are disproportionately affected by the consequences of violence – such as access to food and water and the environmental impact of many conflicts.

FPH is reviewing some of its educational material to ensure it reflects the content of the statement.

The role of public health in the prevention of violence: a statement from the United Kingdom Faculty of Public Health.

Read an abridged version of the violence statement here.

Notes to Editors

1) The UK Faculty of Public Health (FPH) is the leading professional body for public health specialists in the UK. Our members are trained to the highest possible standards of public health competence and practice, as set by FPH.
2) For further information or to request an interview with Professor Middleton please contact Chris Mahony on 07703 715106.

Written: 04/01/2017 , last modified: 09/01/2017