Violence: risk factors
No single risk factor can be taken in isolation to explain why individuals engage in violent behaviour. The WHO’s World Report on Violence and Health (2002) uses an ecological model to explain the complex nature of violence and identifies risk factors at 4 levels: individual, relationship, community and society. Risk factors within each level of the model can interact in different ways to make it more or less likely that an individual will engage in violence. For example, deprivation, poverty, poor educational attainment, substance misuse and history of exposure have all been identified as risk factors. Additionally, exposure to violence is linked with changes in neurological functioning in children and older adults (Bellis et al 2014).
Examples of risk factors across the different levels of the ecological model are shown in Table 1 below.
|Victim of child abuse||Poor parenting practices||Poverty||Economic inequality|
|Psychological / personality disorder||Marital discord||High unemployment||Gender inequality|
|Delinquent behaviour||Violent parental conflict||High crime levels||Cultural norms that support violence|
|Alcohol consumption / drug use||Low socioeconomic household||Local illicit drug trade||High firearm availability|
|Delinquent peers||Inadequate victim care services||Weak economic safety nets|
Source: Adapted from Bellis et al and WHO
* Please note that the table columns read downwards for each ecological level (See Conaglen and Gallimore, 2014, page 16 (1.1Mb)).