Last week, National Public Health Week (NPHW) focused on injury and violence prevention – keeping people safe and realizing the goal of ensuring that people live injury-free. It was a week where a great deal of attention was focused on injury and violence and the health and societal effects of both. The joint Safe States Alliance, Society for the Advancement of Violence and Injury (SAVIR) & CDC’s Injury Center Conference in Coralville, Iowa brought together over 350 injury and violence prevention practitioners and researchers, creating a forum for research informing practice and practice informing research, and an opportunity to explore evidence-based policy and practice. It was a great week, and the first time that NPHW focused on injury and violence prevention.
So, now what do we do? Do we wait for the next event that highlights injury and violence prevention? Or, do we create the events that bring injury and violence prevention to light, and highlight their importance in our daily lives? We have a choice – we, as a field, can design our future, by working to tell the story of injury and violence, by letting people know that injuries and violence are leading causes of death for young people, by raising awareness of the fact that injuries and violence can be prevented. Furthermore, we can implement interventions that are demonstrated to be effective by disseminating those effective interventions and by continuing and expounding upon the dialogue that was started last week. An alternative is that we can sit back and wait for someone else to design our future – to interpret our data; to decide whether injury and violence are important enough to discuss; to hypothesize about what works or doesn’t work.
For me there is only one option, one next step – and I hope that you will make the same choice. I think every week needs to be injury and violence prevention week – and that until our parents and grandparents can explain to their friends what kind of work we do, and how it impacts them, we won’t have successfully raised awareness about injury and violence prevention and its importance in protecting and preserving health.
What steps will we take today to put injury and violence prevention on the map as the premier public health achievement of the next decade?