Injuries and violence are widespread in society. Both unintentional injuries and those caused by acts of violence are among the top 15 killers for Americans of all ages. Many people accept them as “accidents,” “acts of fate,” or as “part of life.” However, most events resulting in injury, disability, or death are predictable and preventable.
Injuries are the leading cause of death for Americans ages 1 to 44, and a leading cause of disability for all ages, regardless of sex, race/ethnicity, or socioeconomic status. More than 180,000 people die from injuries each year, and approximately 1 in 10 sustains a nonfatal injury serious enough to be treated in a hospital emergency department.
The choices people make about individual behaviors, such as alcohol use or risk-taking, can increase injuries. The physical environment, both in the home and community, can affect the rate of injuries related to falls, fires and burns, road traffic injuries, drowning, and violence.
Access to health services, such as systems created for injury-related care, ranging from pre-hospital and acute care to rehabilitation, can reduce the consequences of injuries, including death and long-term disability.
The social environment has a notable influence on the risk for injury and violence through:
- Individual social experiences (for example, social norms, education, victimization history)
- Social relationships (for example, parental monitoring and supervision of youth, peer group associations, family interactions)
- Community environment (for example, cohesion in schools, neighborhoods, and communities)
- Societal-level factors (for example, cultural beliefs, attitudes, incentives and disincentives, laws and regulations)
Interventions that address these social and physical factors have the potential to prevent unintentional injuries and violence. Efforts to prevent unintentional injury may focus on:
- Modifications of the environment
- Improvements in product safety
- Legislation and enforcement
- Education and behavior change
- Technology and engineering
Efforts to prevent violence may focus on:
- Changing social norms about the acceptability of violence
- Improving problem-solving skills (for example, parenting, conflict resolution, coping)
- Changing policies to address the social and economic conditions that often give rise to violence
While not included as objectives in Healthy People 2020, there are several emerging issues in injury and violence prevention that need further research, analysis, and monitoring.
- For unintentional injuries, there is a need to better understand the trends, causes, and prevention strategies for:
- Motor vehicle crashes due to distracted driving
- Injuries related to recreational activities
- In the area of violence, there is a need to better understand the trends, causes, and prevention strategies related to:
- dating violence
- sexual violence among youth
- Elder maltreatment, particularly with respect to quantifying and understanding the problem
The Injury Free Living Well Being Measures 2020 represent a broad range of issues which, if adequately addressed, will improve the health of the Buffalo County.
The 2020 well‐being measures (and objectives) for “Injury Free Living” are listed below.
Increase number of adults who report always wearing seat belts
Decrease the number of youth that report thoughts of suicide
Increase number of youth who report always wearing seat belts
Decrease number of children involved in child abuse
Decrease number of crisis calls for domestic violence
The coalition that is working toward improving the Injury Free Living well-being indicators:
- United Against Violence