Violence is a critical public health problem associated with compromised health and social suffering that are preventable. The Centre for Global Health and Health Equity organized a forum in 2014 to identify: (1) priority issues related to violence affecting different population groups in Canada, and (2) strategies to take action on priority issues to reduce violence-related health inequities in Canada. In this paper, we present findings from the roundtable discussions held at the Forum, offer insights on the socio-political implications of these findings, and provide recommendations for action to reduce violence through research, policy and practice.
Over 60 academic researchers, health and social service agency staff, community advocates and graduate students attended the daylong Forum, which included presentations on structural violence, community violence, gender-based violence, and violence against marginalized groups. Detailed notes taken at the roundtables were analyzed by the first author using a thematic analysis technique.
The thematic analysis identified four thematic areas: 1) structural violence perpetuates interpersonal violence - the historical, social, political and economic marginalization that contributes to personal and community violence. 2) social norms of gender-based violence-the role of dominant social norms in perpetuating the practice of violence, especially towards women, children and older adults; 3) violence prevention and mitigation programs-the need for policy and programming to address violence at the individual/interpersonal, community, and societal levels; and 4) research gaps-the need for comprehensive research evidence made up of systematic reviews, community-based intervention and evaluation of implementation research to identify effective programming to address violence.
The proceedings from the Global Health and Health Equity Forum underscored the importance of recognizing violence as a public health issue that requires immediate and meaningful communal and structural investment to break its historic cycles. Based on our thematic analysis and literature review, four recommendations are offered: (1) Support and adopt policies to prevent or reduce structural violence; (2) Adopt multi-pronged strategies to transform dominant social norms associated with violence; (3) Establish standards and ensure adequate funding for violence prevention programs and services; and (4) Fund higher level ecological research on violence prevention and mitigation.