Suicide and homicide are two of the top three causes of death for Americans under 25. Violence alone accounts for approximately 750,000 annual emergency room visits for those between the ages of 10 and 24 and costs the American taxpayer an estimated $16.2 billion in combined medical and work loss costs.

Those are just some of the reasons that violence is considered a public health emergency that can be found it all facets of modern life. To help research the causes of violence and find practical, usable tools to reduce its burden, the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston has established the Center for Violence Prevention.

“Although these violence statistics are scary, the good news is that violence can be prevented,” said Dr. Jeff Temple, founding director of the Center. “Researchers with this critically needed center will work on evaluating, implementing, and disseminating prevention programs that reduce the burden of violence on Texans.”

The Center will offer cutting-edge education, training and research and will serve as a clearinghouse for the dissemination of violence prevention information through research, training, and technical assistance for schools and communities throughout Texas and the nation.

To ensure that the violence prevention research gets in the hands of those who need it, the Center will provide training workshops related to violence prevention for educators, healthcare professionals, and the general public. The main emphasis will be to educate participants about effective approaches for violence prevention and on how to implement these approaches in their own communities. The Center will also host a prominent annual speaker to propagate the importance of violence prevention and injury control at an annual conference.

“There aren’t many formal injury or violence prevention centers in Texas or in nearby states,” Temple said. “By strategically placing our center in the Houston/Galveston region, we can capitalize on the region’s large, diverse, and rapidly-growing population. This will result in substantial and immediate public health benefits.”

The Center was established by funding provided by the UTMB Provost office and the Department of Ob/Gyn. In addition to providing training and workshops, this funding will be used to hire new faculty and to provide seed funding for new research on violence.

“We are very pleased to open and house this new center at UTMB,” said Dr. Ben Raimer, interim president of UTMB. “The work being done by Dr. Temple and his team is vitally important to understanding and, ultimately, preventing violence in our schools, workplaces and communities.”

A formal unveiling of the Center will be held on Dec. 18 from 4 to 6 p.m. on the 6th floor of the Administration on the Galveston Campus.