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Toronto Public Health releases report addressing community violence

Friday, November 8, 2019 6:27:00 PM

In response to a request from the Board of Health, Toronto's Medical Officer of Health will present a report addressing community violence at the board's November 12 meeting. Community violence is defined as intentional acts of interpersonal violence often committed in public areas by individuals who are not intimately related to the victim. Community violence has physical and mental health impacts on the victim, perpetrator, family, friends, neighbours and the entire city.

Evidence shows that community violence often occurs among young people, particularly young men, and is a health equity issue that disproportionately affects communities facing socioeconomic disadvantage. A review of local data shows that while police-reported community violence decreased between 2009 and 2017, it has increased in recent years. Of note, firearm-related violent crime in Toronto has increased, among youth and adults.

"Community safety is of primary concern to all of us at Toronto Public Health. Currently, there is limited local data available which prevents us from seeing a complete picture of community violence in Toronto, how it has changed over time, and who is most affected. We are committed to working with our City and community partners to explore ways to address these data gaps to help inform actions for addressing this very complex and devastating issue affecting our community."
- Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto's Medical Officer of Health

Community violence also places a significant economic burden on society. The cost of violent crime victimization that occurred in Canada in 2009, excluding intimate partner violence, was estimated as at least $12.7 billion. A Toronto-based study, estimated a $1.74 million cost per offender over a 15-year period in criminal justice costs.

Toronto Public Health is addressing this issue affecting our community in ways including:
• examining the root causes of community violence and identifying evidence-based prevention strategies to improve child development outcomes and strengthen families • providing youth leadership and resiliency programs • supporting a comprehensive school health strategy that includes mental health promotion • supporting local community safety groups, and • providing psychological first aid support following a traumatic community event.