Violence as an Epidemic: Examining Organized Crime-Related Homicides in the U.S.-Mexico Border from a Public Health Perspective
Chinchilla, Fernando A.
Can collective violence along the U.S.-Mexico border—the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas, plus Texas—be considered an “epidemic”? This paper answers this question by applying a public health approach to organized crime-related homicides, an extreme and coordinated form of economic violence with deep social meaning, from 2005 to 2013. Researchers have increasingly described violence as a public health issue, and though “epidemic” has traditionally referred to communicable diseases, it has also expanded to include non-communicable conditions such as behavioral health issues. Thus, we propose that the issue of violence should be methodologically examined through a public health approach—describing, monitoring, and tracking violence and its patterns and trends by collecting all types of data; identifying risk factors that trigger violence; designing and evaluating prevention policies; and disseminating and executing prevention policies. In studying the issue through epidemiological tools such as homogeneity, incidence, predisposition, enabling and disabling factors, precipitating factors, and reinforcing factors, we conclude that the Mexican side of the border is experiencing a violence epidemic. This reality calls for a move to a more comprehensive preventive approach on this issue on both sides of the border. By redefining collective violence as health issue, researchers and policymakers will be able to promote integrative leadership, identify best practices from learn-as-we-go approaches, and create policy evaluations for each agency meant to intervene on this issue.
Citable link to this pagehttp://hdl.handle.net/1911/92477
Link to Baker Institute Research Libraryhttp://www.bakerinstitute.org/research/violence-epidemic/
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- Mexico Center