Preventing violence in seven countries: Global convergence in policies
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Do governments take the measures that are supported by the best scientific evidence available? We present a brief review of the situation in: Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Our findings show surprisingly similar developments across countries. While all seven countries are moving towards evidence-based decision making regarding policies and programs to prevent violence, there remain a number of difficulties before this end can be achieved. For example, there continue to be few randomized controlled trials or rigorous quasi-experimental studies on aggression and violence. Results from experimental research are essential to both policy makers and researchers to determine the effectiveness of programs as well as increase our knowledge of the problem. Additionally, all noted that media attention for violence is high in their country, often leading to management by crisis with the result that policies are not based on evidence, but instead seek to appease public outrage. And perhaps because of attendant organizational problems (i.e., in many countries violence prevention was not under the guise of one particular agency or ministry), most have not developed a coordinated policy focusing on the prevention of violence and physical aggression. It is hypothesized that leaders in democratic countries, who must run for election every 4 to 6 years, may feel a need to focus on short-term planning rather than long-term preventive policies since the costs, but not the benefits for the latter would be incurred while they still served in office. We also noted a general absence of expertise beyond those within scientific circles. The need for these ideas to be more widely accepted will be an essential ingredient to real and sustaining change. This means that there must be better communication and increased understanding between researchers and policy makers. Toward those ends, the recent establishment of the Campbell Collaboration, formed to provide international systematic reviews of program effectiveness, will make these results more available and accessible to politicians, administrators and those charged with making key policy decisions.
European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research