A Public Health Approach to Violence Prevention in Madison

A Public Health Approach to Violence Prevention in Madison


Last week, the Madison Common Council passed the 2018 city budget. There are many initiatives and services to be proud of in the budget, but our thoughtful and proactive approach to violence prevention stands out. The 2018 budget funds a new focus on a public health approach to violence in our community, as well as our ongoing commitment to public safety and community development.

We are uniquely positioned through Public Health Madison-Dane County to work regionally on violence prevention. Public Health’s role is to convene internal and external stakeholders, define the issues and provide a vision, foster dialogue and create collaboration, assess and track population-based data and our landscape of current initiatives and evidence-based best practices from other communities, help define community outcome indicators to ensure investments and programs are making a collective impact by being data and evidence-driven, and provide technical support.

We need Public Health to work with our community to develop a continuum of strategies to prevent violence from happening in the first place, through upstream strategies. For instance, crisis response is at one end of the continuum as a violence interruption strategy, while early childhood investments and youth and adult employment are violence prevention strategies at the other end of the continuum. The Minneapolis Blueprint for Action to Prevent Youth Violence and the Milwaukee Violence Prevention Plan are examples of comprehensive plans developed with a public health framework. We charged Public Health Madison-Dane County with creating a “comprehensive plan for violence prevention,” such as those in Minneapolis and Milwaukee; developed by Public Health as the main convener, with implementation done collectively through funding of associated initiatives by and from many partners.  

As Alders who work professionally in the field of public health, we are extremely proud of our community for recognizing the importance of a public health approach to violence prevention. We will not be able to address the root causes of violence and effectively prevent violence without dedicating staff resources to creating this collective approach to a continuum of evidence-based interventions with our community. As this strategy is being developed in Madison, we will continue to support funding to nonprofits working on the ground to support our currently funded violence prevention and intervention strategies which range from accredited high-quality early childhood care and education, youth and adult employment to crisis-focused peer support specialists for those experiencing violence and reentry-focused peer support for those previously incarcerated.

We thank you in advance for joining us in this effort, and dedicating your tax dollars to these types of innovative and progressive approaches to public safety and violence prevention.

This submitted opinion column reflects the views of its authors only and does not necessarily reflect the views of Madison365 or its staff, board, members or sponsors.