Violence is preventable: Tools for changing the public discourse

Like other public health issues, violence is preventable, but, in numerous cities, policies that emphasize prevention are in short supply. That's because many citizens and leaders don't believe preventing violence is possible, and even if they want to try, they don't know how.

This is partly because the public's understanding of violence, beyond personal experience, comes through the filter of what gets reported in news coverage. Typically, reporting on violence is focused on law enforcement and criminal justice perspectives that often instill fear, discourage positive action and reinforce cultural assumptions that the problem is inevitable.

BMSG is working in collaboration with the Oakland-based Prevention Institute, with support from Northern California Kaiser Permanente Community Benefit Department, to change this discourse to emphasize that violence is preventable. We will begin by analyzing how violence is currently framed in local news, including how news covering the education, business and health care sectors can better include portrayals of violence as a preventable public health issue. With Prevention Institute, we will develop key messages and tools to help advocates learn to effectively articulate to decision-makers the need for systems change, highlighting the roles of the business, education and health care sectors.

The tools will help advocates, Kaiser Permanente practitioners and local leaders increase the visibility of violence as a preventable public health issue (and the role for business, education and health care advocates) in key local news outlets.

Related resources

Changing the discourse about violence: A strategic communication toolkit

Changing the discourse about community violence: To prevent it, we have to talk about it

Webinar: Findings and opportunities from an analysis of community violence and safety in California news

Preventable or inevitable: How do community violence and community safety appear in California news?

Preventable or inevitable: How could news about community safety appear in California business and education coverage?

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