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Monday, July 07, 2008

Person-Directed Violence, A Public Health Epidemic

The threat of violence is a daily risk, which is occurring at an unprecedented rate nationwide. Many victims of this surge in violence are recent immigrants and other racial and ethnic groups who traditionally hold jobs in industries that a plagued by incidents of violence in the workplace.

Violence is particularly acute for taxicab drivers, convenience store clerks and other retail workers, security guards, and others working in industries with high percentages of minority workers. These deaths often go unnoticed or are not chronicled in the media as other more sensational act of co-worker violence.

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, workers are most at risk if their jobs involve routine contact with the public or exchange of money. Employees are also at increased in situations such as working alone or in small numbers, working very late or very early hours, or working in high crime areas. Other factor include, having a mobile workplace such as a taxicab or police cruiser, working with unstable or volatile persons in health care, social services, or criminal justice setting, guarding valuable property or possessions and working in community-based sittings.

“We have been viewing the problem of workplace violence too narrowly, and in so doing, we’ve not been able to get on top of it. It’s not just a crime issue, or a private industry issue, or a labor issue. It is a much broader public health problem.’ Said Dr. James Merchant, Dean of the University of Iowa’s College of Public Health.

Public health care professionals need training and anger management, stress management, assertive communication and emotional intelligence. They need to educate the public and their own colleagues on how best to stem workplace violence.

Certified anger management providers must take a more active role in advocating for violence prevention in addition to services for perpetrators of violence. Person-directed violence occurs in a variety of settings and is not limited to any particular profession, economic, or racial/ethnic group. All of the data show that it affects persons across the board and is not related to socioeconomic status.

George Anderson, MSW, BCD, CAMF, CEAP
Diplomate, American Association of Anger Management Providers
Anderson & Anderson®, The Trusted Name in Anger Management


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