SaferSpaces: Violence and Crime – What Are We Talking About?

Violence and Crime – What Are We Talking About?

What is Violence?

Violence can mean many things and so it is important to have a clear understanding of what distinguishes violence from other crimes.

The definition that is often used by institutions working in the area of violence and crime prevention worldwide, is the definition that was developed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2002. The WHO defines violence as:

The intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, that either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, mal-development or deprivation.

Based on this definition, violence must be deliberate, can be physical or based on power, it includes threats and risk of harm, it can be against yourself, and it includes actions that might damage someone’s development or deprive them of something they need. This means that violence is more than just the physical act of hurting someone and is actually quite a complex term.

Read through the list below and indicate whether the statement is describing an act of violence according to the WHO definition.

1 A policeman shoots a criminal who is trying to escape a crime scene. Is this violence?

2 A mother leaves her small child alone in their house, without food, for hours on end. Is this violence?

3 A woman accidentally cuts herself with a knife while preparing food. Is this violence?

4 Two men at a bar get into an argument and the one punches the other. Is this violence?

5 A family comes home to find that someone has broken into their house and stolen many of their belongings. Is this violence?