ANNEX II: VIOLENCE
249. Once viewed solely as a criminal justice problem,
violence in the community is now often seen as a public health
problem. While the criminal justice system tends to identify anti-social
individuals as the cause of the problem, public health tends to
identify social and structural reasons for violence in the community
and argues that social solutions are necessary.
250. It is hard to quantify the impact of violence
in the community. Most attention has been paid to domestic violence,
particularly against women.
In the 1992 British Crime Survey, 11% of women who had lived with
a partner reported physical violence against them in their relationship.
Other studies have found higher percentages of women who have
experienced physical injury from their partners or former partners.
45% of female homicide victims in England and Wales are killed
by present or former partners. By contrast, only 6% of male homicide
victims are killed by their spouse or partner.
251. Other important aspects of violence involve
teenagers. A considerable amount of research has been carried
out in the United States on the determinants of teenage violence.
High levels of violence in young people are associated with poor
performance at school and weak social bonds with peers. High levels
of tobacco and marijuana smoking in schools are also linked with
subsequent violence in later teenage years. Girls with low self-esteem
during early adolescence were more likely to exhibit violent behaviour
later on. These authors concluded that programmes aimed at preventing
drug use and raising self-esteem in young adolescents may produce
a significant reduction in violent behaviour in later life.
252. Alcohol misuse has also been identified as an
independent predictor of violent behaviour in American studies.
Even after controlling for income, educational status and employment
status, alcohol misuse was still a significant predictor of violent
253. Evidence suggests that interventions aimed at
improving public health through social and structural change will
have a beneficial effect on violent behaviour amongst young people
and in the home. Improving education, improving self-esteem and
reducing tobacco, alcohol and drug use is likely, on the basis
of US studies, to have a beneficial effect on violence at all
levels in the community. The health consequences of violence amongst
those, particularly women, who are subject to regular violence
are significant and can lead to an increased incidence of common
symptoms such as headaches, stress, back pain, abdominal pain.
Controlling violence, particularly in the home, should lead to
a reduction in these symptoms.
254. Many of these issues involve the Home Office
as the lead government Department indicating again how essential
it is that the Government co-operates across departmental boundaries
in tackling public health issues.
See Siobhan McCartney, "Domestic Violence" in Perspectives
in Public Health, pp.85-94. Back