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Violence causes considerable harm through fear, injury and loss.  We believe that, through working together and understanding and tackling its root causes, violence can be prevented.

The VRN has adopted a public health approach to preventing violence.  This involves continuously following the four-step process outlined below:

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The four steps of a public health approach to violence prevention (World Heath Organisation, 2002)

The public health approach is also reflected in our Core Principles, as follows:

  1. Empower everyone including young people and communities, to play a role in preventing violence.  We will seek to widen involvement, particularly amongs those most affected by violence, so that solutions are more relevant, responsive and effective.  We will also promote leadership amongs young people, communities and at all levels of organisations to build capacity and the reach of our work.

  2. Secure maximum impact through maintaining a population focus.  When allocating resources and targeting prevention activity we will ensure this reaches the populations most at risk and impacts positively on reducing inequalities.

  3. Ensuring our work is evidence-informed.  We will use data and gather knowledge from a range of sources to improve out understanding of the nature and causes of violence locally and shape our response.  We will seek to share this knowledge acrossand beyond the Network so to promote a shared understanding and improve effectiveness.

  4. Adopt a life-course approach.  We recognisethat prevention holds the greatest potential if we invest in healthy child and adolescence development, actively support transitions and promote resilience in individuals, families and communities. We will seek to prevent violence at the earliest opportunity and within each developmental stage in life with a particular emphasis on early year’s development and relational, contextual and trauma-informed approaches.

  5. Promote and support whole-system thinking and action.  We will continuously seek to lead and collaborate across the whole system, promoting joint working and problem-solving between agencies and within communities where challenges or barriers arise.

  6. Add value and create sustainable solutions.  We will seek to strengthen existing structures and services wherever possible including investing in capacity and asset-building. We will invest additional resource only where there are identified gaps and with a view to making the case for mainstream investment.

  7. Aim to continuously learn and improve.  We will assess the effectiveness and impact of our work including seeking stakeholder feedback, evaluating interventions and sharing learning across the local and national

A life-course approach

We know that the causes of violence are multiple and arise from a complex interplay between a wide range of risk and protective factors which operate at different levels (individual, relationship, community and societal). As such, the VRN’s approach involves identifying and reducing risk factors and strengthening protective factors within and across these levels. We also seek to understand these factors within the context of the life-course, particularly from birth to young adulthood.

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This is because violent behaviour and many of the conditions which contribute to its occurrence develop over time and like with almost every other aspect of human development, the foundations are laid in early childhood.  Throughout life, a child may be exposed to different risk factors, for example as a teenager new risks outside the family home are likely to arise. Importantly there are many opportunities to address risks and strengthen protective factors.

The VRN seeks to prevent violence at the earliest opportunity. This requires system leadership and ensuring activity spans all levels of prevention.

Our Violence Prevention Framework

We use our Violence Prevention Framework for planning and implementing strategies to reduce and prevent violence.

An effective violence prevention system seeks to allocate the majority of resource to preventing violence from happening in the first place (primary prevention). The VRN seeks to support a paradigm shift towards increased investment in earlier prevention and offering credible and concrete alternatives for young people.

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The critical ‘building blocks’ underpin all of the VRN’s prevention activity:

  • Community consensus:   we seek to empower communities to play a central and sustainable role in violence prevention through strengthening assets and increasing opportunities to lead and shape responses.

  • Collaboration:   we encourage and support all partners to play their role and promote working collaboratively across organisational and partnership boundaries.

  • Co-production:   we aim to involve young people and/or relevant communities in the design and delivery of services to improve their relevance, legitimacy and effectiveness.

  • Co-operation in data sharing and intelligence:   we use multi-agency data, the evidence-base and insights to improve both our understanding of violence and increase the effectiveness of our response.

  • Counter-narrative:   we counteract negative perceptions and enable change through accurate messaging and information, providing positive role models for children and young people.


You can find out more about our approach on our RESOURCES page.