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NCJ Number: 200382 Find in a Library
Title: Recognizing Homicide as a Public Health Threat: Toward an Integration of Sociological and Public Health Perspectives in the Study of Violence
Journal: Homicide Studies  Volume:7  Issue:2  Dated:May 2003  Pages:182-205
Author(s): William A. Pridemore
Date Published: May 2003
Page Count: 24
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This introductory and conceptual article is intended to encourage debate over the potential benefits and drawbacks of the integration of the social and behavioral sciences with a public health approach to the threat of homicide, following the lead of recent work that attempts to combine sociology/criminology and health (Kawachi, Kennedy, and Wilkinson, 1999; Mercy and Hammond, 1998; Ross, 1993; and Schneiderman et al., 2001).
Abstract: The article begins with an examination of the prevalence of violence-related morbidity and mortality worldwide, including a profile of nations and populations with high levels of homicide mortality and attention to the suspected causes of these high rates. A table presents data on injury-related mortality throughout the world. It indicates that included together, interpersonal violence and war-related death constituted nearly one-fourth of the total injury-related mortality in 1998 (22.5 per 100,000). The article notes that although homicide mortality in the United States declined throughout much of the 1990's, it is still several times that in other established market economies; a large component of this overall high rate is due to homicide among Blacks. Homicide mortality in Russia has been comparable to or greater than in the United States for at least the past 35 years, and homicide has emerged as an even more serious health threat as part of the general mortality crisis facing transitional Russia. The concluding section of this article discusses the advantages provided by the sociological and public health perspectives on violence, some of their often-unrecognized similarities, and the benefits they can provide to each other and to an overall understanding of the causes of violence. The author argues that homicide is an external cause of death that exhibits consistent demographic, temporal, and spatial patterns and is thus a preventable form of mortality; thus, public health intervention can minimize violent behavior, especially among those populations with high levels of excess mortality that result from violence. The public health field has a history of successfully applying scientific knowledge to implement intervention strategies that involve changing institutional and individual behaviors that are difficult to influence. Sociological criminologists, on the other hand, can reveal patterns of homicide and identify how they covary with group-level processes and social structural conditions, thereby providing a better understanding of the causal structure of violence. Despite the difficulties involved, an integration of the sociological/criminological and public health perspectives can improve the understanding of and responses to homicide and other types of violence. 3 tables, 1 figure, 6 notes, and 87 references
Main Term(s): Criminology
Index Term(s): Homicide; Homicide causes; Homicide trends; Offense statistics; Public Health Service; Sociology; Violence; Violence causes; Violence prevention
Note: An earlier version of this article was presented at the General Population Conference of the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population, August 2001, Salvador de Bahia, Brazil.
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