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To Prevent It, We Have To Talk About It

Pamela Mejia, MS, MPH; Lillian Seklir, BA; Laura Nixon, MPH; and Lori Dorfman, DrPH, of Berkeley Media Studies Group

Introduction

Community violence* happens when complex environmental factors like poverty, structural racism and lack of access to mental health services intersect with easy access to alcohol, drugs and weapons. Like other public health problems, violence is preventable, but it’s not often understood that way. In fact, violence at the community level can feel inescapable—even people who haven’t directly experienced it are inundated by a culture and a discourse that presents violence as constant, extreme and inevitable.

To prevent violence, we have to change the discourse about it. The discourse includes who speaks about violence and what is said, but even more than that, the discourse reflects who is deemed legitimate spokesperson and what solutions are considered credible. The public, and the policymakers whose actions and decisions shape communities, must understand and be able to talk about violence as a problem that every one of us, no matter what sector of society we occupy, has a role in solving.


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