Injury and Violence Prevention


Photo of a mom and kidInjuries, such as falls, motor vehicle crashes, intimate partner violence and child maltreatment, are a major public health issue.

Unintentional and violence-related injuries cause nearly 200,000 deaths each year, and are the leading cause of death for people age 1 to 44. In addition, millions of people are treated in emergency rooms or hospitalized due to injuries each year. With physical and economic consequences, each year's injuries lead to estimated lifetime costs of $671 billion in medical expenses and lost productivity.

Injury crosses all boundaries and can affect anyone, regardless of age, sex, race or socioeconomic background. While injury and violence have a significant burden, they are also largely preventable. Recognizing the social and economic burden of injury and violence is critical to determine the appropriate level of intervention and investment into prevention activities.

Explore state actions on any of the injury and violence prevention topics through NCSL's Injury and Violence Prevention Legislation Database.

New NCSL Resources

Injury and Violence Prevention Topics

Child Maltreatment

Child maltreatment ranges from neglect to emotional, physical or sexual abuse. Approximately 702,000 children were the victims of maltreatment in 2014, with nearly 1,600 deaths, according to the CDC. Rates of maltreatment are highest among infants—those under age 1—and decline through adolescence. In addition to the immediate harms of child maltreatment, over time, maltreatment can cause developmental impairment, lead to risky behavior and chronic disease and, eventually, early death. The CDC estimates that the total lifetime cost of child abuse and neglect is $124 million annually. For more information on state actions to prevent child maltreatment and other child welfare topics, please click here.

Falls Among Older Adults

More than one in four adults age 65 and older falls each year. Falls are the leading cause of injury and injury-related death among this age group, as well as the main cause of traumatic brain injuries. Death rates from falls have risen sharply over the past decade, with more than 27,000 older adults dying from unintentional fall injuries each year. In addition, each year 2.8 million older adults are treated in emergency departments for nonfatal injuries from falls, and more than 800,000 are hospitalized. For more information on state strategies to prevent elderly falls, please click here.

Motor Vehicle Safety

More than 2.5 million Americans were treated in emergency rooms as a result of motor vehicle crashes in 2012 and motor vehicle-related injuries remain a leading cause of death. The economic impact is also significant: motor vehicle crashes in 2013 cost around $44 billion in lifetime medical and work loss costs. Certain factors increase risk as well. Alcohol-impaired accidents accounted for nearly one-third of motor vehicle deaths in 2014. In addition, child passengers, teen drivers and older adult drivers are at a high risk of injury or death related to motor vehicles. For more information on motor vehicle safety and NCSL resources, please click here. And for state actions to improve motor vehicle safety, please see the Traffic Safety Legislation Online Tracking Database.

Prescription Drug Overdose and Abuse

In the United States, it is estimated that prescription opioid abuse costs are more than $78.5 billion annually. In 2014, of the 47,055 drug overdose deaths in the United States, 28,647 (61 percent) were related to pharmaceuticals. Reducing the burden of prescription drug abuse is at the top of many state's agendas. For more information on state actions to reduce prescription drug abuse, please click here.

Teen Dating Violence

At least 10 percent of adolescents who report dating say they have been victims of physical dating violence at least once in the previous year, according to the CDC. In the same survey, 10 percent also reported that they had experienced sexual dating violence at least once in the previous year. Adolescents who experience any form of dating violence are more likely to experience depression or anxiety, engage in unhealthy behaviors including alcohol and drug use, and have thoughts about suicide. For more information on state strategies to prevent teen dating violence, please click here.

Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is estimated to have direct and indirect costs of more than $76.5 billion annually on top of the emotional burden faced by family and friends of someone who suffers a TBI. Children and older adults are especially at risk for TBI, but it can affect all age groups. These injuries can range from mild concussions to severe trauma, and lead to short-term issues, lifelong disabilities or death. TBI was associated with about 2.8 million emergency room visits, hospitalizations and deaths in 2013. For more information on state actions to prevent TBI, please click here.

General Injury and Violence Prevention Tools

Information on other important injury and violence prevention topics including, childhood injury, shaken baby syndrome, suicide, youth violence, sexual violence, poisoning, and graduated driver licensing are found here.

The documents below  are intended to help inform policymakers about the most pressing violence- and injury-related issues and the strategies that may be effective in reducing and preventing violence and injuries from occurring.

*External links are included for informational purposes only and do not imply an endorsement of the content.