IMPORTANT:This page has used Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia in either a refactored, modified, abridged, expanded, built on or 'straight from' text content! (view authors)

File:Violence world map - DALY - WHO2004.svg

U.N. rates of physical violence resulting in death, per 100,000 inhabitants by country in 2004.[1]

  no data
  less than 200
  more than 3000

Violence is the expression of physical force against one or more people, compelling action against one's will on pain of being hurt.[2][3][4] Worldwide, violence is used as a tool of manipulation and also is an area of concern for law and culture which take attempts to suppress and stop it. The word violence covers a broad spectrum. It can vary from between a physical altercation between two beings to war and genocide where millions may die as a result. The Global Peace Index, updated in June 2010, ranks 149 countries according to the "absence of violence".[5]

Psychology and sociology

The causes of violent behavior in humans are often topics of research in psychology and sociology. Neurobiologist Jan Volavka emphasizes that for those purposes, “violent behavior is defined as intentional physically aggressive behavior against another person."[6]

Scientists do not agree on whether violence is inherent in humans. Among prehistoric humans, there is archaeological evidence for both contentions of violence and peacefulness as primary characteristics.[7]

Since violence is a matter of perception as well as a measurable phenomenon, psychologists have found variability in whether people perceive certain physical acts as 'violent'. For example, in a state where execution is a legalized punishment we do not typically perceive the executioner as 'violent', though we may talk, in a more metaphorical way, of the state acting violently. Likewise understandings of violence are linked to a perceived aggressor-victim relationship: hence psychologists have shown that people may not recognise defensive use of force as violent, even in cases where the amount of force used is significantly greater than in the original aggression.[8]

Riane Eisler, who describes early cooperative, egalitarian societies (she coins the term "gylanic", as it is widely agreed that the term matriarchal is inaccurate), and Walter Wink, who coined the phrase “the myth of redemptive violence,” suggest that human violence, especially as organized in groups, is a phenomenon of the last five to ten thousand years.[citation needed]

The “violent male ape” image is often brought up in discussions of human violence. Dale Peterson and Richard Wrangham in “Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence” write that violence is inherent in humans, though not inevitable. However, William L. Ury, editor of a book called "Must We Fight? From the Battlefield to the Schoolyard—A New Perspective on Violent Conflict and Its Prevention” debunks the "killer ape" myth in his book which brings together discussions from two Harvard Law School symposiums. The conclusion is that “we also have lots of natural mechanisms for cooperation, to keep conflict in check, to channel aggression, and to overcome conflict. These are just as natural to us as the aggressive tendencies."[9]

James Gilligan writes violence is often pursued as an antidote to shame or humiliation.[10] The use of violence often is a source of pride and a defence of honor, especially among males who often believe violence defines manhood.[11]

Stephen Pinker in a New Republic article “The History of Violence” offers evidence that on the average the amount and cruelty of violence to humans and animals has decreased over the last few centuries.[12]

Gender and violence

"Criminological studies have traditionally ignored half the population: Women are largely invisible in both theoretical considerations and empirical studies. Since the 1970s, important feminist works have noted the way in which criminal transgressions by women occur in different contexts from those by men and how women experiences with the criminal justice system are influenced by gendered assumptions about appropriate male and female roles. Feminists have also highlighted the prevalence of violence against women, both at home and in public."[13]

Of all crimes reported in 2006, 76.2 percent of arrestees were men and also there was a huge imbalance in the ratio of men to women in prison. In 2004, women only made up 7.1 percent of the prison population.[13]

Men are overwhelmingly the aggressors in certain categories of crime such as domestic violence, sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape. Women are mostly the victims in these categories. It is estimated that 25% of women are victims of violence at some point in their lifetimes.[13]

Youth and violence

File:Street fight.jpg

Official crime statistics reveal high rates of offense among young people. These offenses include rape, assault, and theft. About 34 percent of all offenders arrested for criminal offenses in 2006 were under the age of twenty-one (Federal Bureau of Investigations 2007b). Rising crime rates are often directly related to the moral breakdown among young people and vandalism, school truancy, and drug use, which illustrates societies increasing permissiveness. The mass murder at Columbine High School is an example of how moral outrage can deflect attention from larger issues.[14]

At the school of Psychology at Birmingham University, links between violence viewed from a young age can have a dramatic effect on violent youth. Research into media violence with young people has started as a result of the theory that they are a “vulnerable audience.” [15] Contributing factors such as poverty, one-parent families, and a lack of parental care support and affection, along with inconsistent discipline are the most susceptible to be influenced by violent images through the mediums of television, Web 2.0 and more increasingly video games. A 1960’s UNESCO review stated that television viewing is a contributory factor to delinquency and crime, but it is likely to affect only those children who are already indifferent and prone to commit crimes. “In any of these cases, television by itself cannot make a normal, well-adjusted child into a delinquent.” Television was seen as dangerous from the point of view of an already aggressive child being able to gain hints of how to actually express their hostile feelings, rather than in terms of it being capable of making a non-aggressive child actually become aggressive.[16]

According to the book, The Effects of Race and Family Attachment on Self Esteem, Self Control, and Delinquency, children who are raised by both parents and receive proper affection are more than likely to grow into a non-violent individual. It is believed that a child needs to bond with their parents during the early ages of childhood. As a result, the child has a higher chance of not growing into a violent person. Many children who do not receive the affection they need from their parents often turn to other sources to fill that void with a common source being a gang.

Diagnosis of violence related psychiatric disorder

The American Psychiatric Association planning and research committees for the forthcoming DSM-5 (2012) have canvassed a series of new relational disorders which include Conflict Disorder Without Violence or Marital Abuse Disorder (Marital Conflict Disorder With Violence).[17] Couples with marital disorders sometimes come to clinical attention because the couple recognize long-standing dissatisfaction with their marriage and come to the clinician on their own initiative or are referred by an astute health care professional. Secondly, there is serious violence in the marriage which is -"usually the husband battering the wife" .[18] In these cases the emergency room or a legal authority often is the first to notify the clinician. Most importantly, marital violence "is a major risk factor for serious injury and even death and women in violent marriages are at much greater risk of being seriously injured or killed (National Advisory Council on Violence Against Women 2000)."[19] The authors of this study add that "There is current considerable controversy over whether male-to-female marital violence is best regarded as a reflection of male psychopathology and control or whether there is an empirical base and clinical utility for conceptualizing these patterns as relational."[19]

Recommendations for clinicians making a diagnosis of Marital Relational Disorder should include the assessment of actual or "potential" male violence as regularly as they assess the potential for suicide in depressed patients. Further, "clinicians should not relax their vigilance after a battered wife leaves her husband, because some data suggest that the period immediately following a marital separation is the period of greatest risk for the women. Many men will stalk and batter their wives in an effort to get them to return or punish them for leaving. Initial assessments of the potential for violence in a marriage can be supplemented by standardized interviews and questionnaires, which have been reliable and valid aids in exploring marital violence more systematically."[19]

The authors can conclude with what they call "very recent information"[20] on the course of violent marriages which suggests that "over time a husband's battering may abate somewhat, but perhaps because he has successfully intimidated his wife. The risk of violence remains strong in a marriage in which it has been a feature in the past. Thus, treatment is essential here; the clinician cannot just wait and watch."[20] The most urgent clinical priority is the protection of the wife because she is the one most frequently at risk, and clinicians must be aware that supporting assertiveness by a battered wife may lead to more beatings or even death.[20]

It is also important to this topic to understand the paradoxical effects of some sedative drugs.[21] Serious complications can occur in conjunction with the use of sedatives creating the opposite effect as to that intended. Malcolm Lader at the Institute of Psychiatry in London estimates the incidence of these adverse reactions at about 5%, even in short-term use of the drugs.[22] The paradoxical reactions may consist of depression, with or without suicidal tendencies, phobias, aggressiveness, violent behavior and symptoms sometimes misdiagnosed as psychosis.[23][24]


One of the main functions of law is to regulate violence.[25]

Sociologist Max Weber stated that the state claims, for better or worse, a monopoly on violence practiced within the confines of a specific territory. Law enforcement is the main means of regulating nonmilitary violence in society. Governments regulate the use of violence through legal systems governing individuals and political authorities, including the police and military. Civil societies authorize some amount of violence, exercised through the police power, to maintain the status quo and enforce laws.

However, German political theorist Hannah Arendt noted: "Violence can be justifiable, but it never will be legitimate ... Its justification loses in plausibility the farther its intended end recedes into the future. No one questions the use of violence in self-defence, because the danger is not only clear but also present, and the end justifying the means is immediate".[26] In the 20th century in acts of democide governments may have killed more than 260 million of their own people through police brutality, execution, massacre, slave labor camps, and sometimes through intentional famine.[27]

Violent acts that are not carried out by the military or police and that are not in self-defence are usually classified as crimes, although not all crimes are violent crimes. Damage to property is classified as violent crime in some jurisdictions but not in all.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation classifies violence resulting in homicide into criminal homicide and justifiable homicide (e.g. self defense).[28]


War is a state of prolonged violent large-scale conflict involving two or more groups of people, usually under the auspices of government. War is fought as a means of resolving territorial and other conflicts, as war of aggression to conquer territory or loot resources, in national self-defense, or to suppress attempts of part of the nation to secede from it.[citation needed]

Since the Industrial Revolution, the lethality of modern warfare has steadily grown. World War I casualties were over 40 million and World War II casualties were over 70 million.

Nevertheless, some hold the actual deaths from war have decreased compared to past centuries. In War Before Civilization, Lawrence H. Keeley, a professor at the University of Illinois, calculates that 87% of tribal societies were at war more than once per year, and some 65% of them were fighting continuously. The attrition rate of numerous close-quarter clashes, which characterize endemic warfare, produces casualty rates of up to 60%, compared to 1% of the combatants as is typical in modern warfare.[29] Stephen Pinker agrees, writing that “in tribal violence, the clashes are more frequent, the percentage of men in the population who fight is greater, and the rates of death per battle are higher.”[30]

Jared Diamond in his award-winning books, Guns, Germs and Steel and The Third Chimpanzee provides sociological and anthropological evidence for the rise of large scale warfare as a result of advances in technology and city-states. The rise of agriculture provided a significant increase in the number of individuals that a region could sustain over hunter-gatherer societies, allowing for development of specialized classes such as soldiers, or weapons manufacturers. On the other hand, tribal conflicts in hunter-gatherer societies tend to result in wholesale slaughter of the opposition (other than perhaps females of child-bearing years) instead of territorial conquest or slavery, presumably as hunter-gatherer numbers could not sustain empire-building.[citation needed]

Religious and political ideology

File:Hep-hep riots.jpg

1819 anti-Semitic riots in Frankfurt. On the left, two peasant women are assaulting a Jew with pitchfork and broom. On the right, a man wearing spectacles, tails, and a six-button waistcoat, "perhaps a pharmacist or a schoolteacher,"[31] holds another Jew by the throat and is about to club him with a truncheon. A contemporary engraving by Johann Michael Voltz.

Religious and political ideologies have been the cause of interpersonal violence throughout history.[32] Ideologues often falsely accuse others of violence, such as the ancient blood libel against Jews, the medieval accusations of casting witchcraft spells against women, caricatures of black men as “violent brutes” that helped excuse the late 19th century Jim Crow laws in the United States,[33] and modern accusations of satanic ritual abuse against day care center owners and others.[34]

Both supporters and opponents of the 21st century War on Terrorism regard it largely as an ideological and religious war.[35]

Vittorio Bufacchi describes two different modern concepts of violence, one the “minimalist conception” of violence as an intentional act of excessive or destructive force, the other the “comprehensive conception” which includes violations of rights, including a long list of human needs.[36]

Anti-capitalists assert that capitalism is violent. They believe private property, trade, interest and profit survive only because police violence defends them and that capitalist economies need war to expand.[37] They may use the term "structural violence" to describe the systematic ways in which a given social structure or institution kills people slowly by preventing them from meeting their basic needs, for example the deaths caused by diseases because of lack of medicine.[38] Free market supporters argue that it is violently enforced state laws intervening in markets - state capitalism - which cause many of the problems anti-capitalists attribute to structural violence.[39]

Frantz Fanon critiqued the violence of colonialism and wrote about the counter violence of the "colonized victims."[40][41][42]

Throughout history, most religions and individuals like Mahatma Gandhi have preached that humans are capable of eliminating individual violence and organizing societies through purely nonviolent means. Gandhi himself once wrote: “A society organized and run on the basis of complete non-violence would be the purest anarchy.”[43] Modern political ideologies which espouse similar views include pacifist varieties of voluntarism, mutualism, anarchism and libertarianism.

Health and prevention

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines violence as "Injury inflicted by deliberate means", which includes assault, as well as "legal intervention, and self-harm".[44] The World Health Organization ( “WHO”) in its first World Report on Violence and Health defined violence as "the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person or against a group or community, that either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment or deprivation."[45]

WHO estimates that each year around 1.6 million lives are lost worldwide due to violence. It is among the leading causes of death for people ages 15–44, especially of males.[46]

Recent estimates for murders per year in various countries include: 55,000 murders in Brazil,[47] 25,000 murders in Colombia,[48] 20,000 murders in South Africa, 15,000 murders in Mexico, 14,000 murders in the United States,[49] 11,000 murders in Venezuela, 8,000 murders in Russia, 6,000 murders in El Salvador, 1,600 murders in Jamaica,[50] 1000 murders in France, 500 murders in Canada, and 200 murders in Chile.[51]

Violence in the media


Classification & nomenclature

See also


  1. "Mortality and Burden of Disease Estimates for WHO Member States in 2002" (xls). World Health Organization. 2002.
  2., Merriam-Webster Dictionary Retrieved January 8, 2009.
  3., Oxford English Dictionary Retrieved January 8, 2009.
  4., American Heritage Dictionary, Violence, Retrieved January 8, 2009.
  6. The Neurobiology of Violence, An Update, Journal of Neuropsychiatry Clin Neurosci 11:3, Summer 1999. As Mexican Biologist and Scientologist Adri Rodriguez says, Violence is a recurring motif in today's society.
  7. Heather Whipps, Peace or War? How early humans behaved, LiveScience.Com, March 16, 2006.
  8. Rowan, John (1978). The Structured Crowd. Davis-Poynter..
  9. Cindy Fazzi, Debunking the "killer ape" myth, Dispute Resolution Journal, May–July 2002.
  10. Gilligan, James (1996). Violence: Our Deadly Epidemic and Its Causes. Putnam Adult. ISBN 0-399-13979-6 .
  11. Emotional Competency; Dr. Michael Obsatz,From Shame-Based Masculinity to Holistic Manhood, Robin Morgan, The Demon Lover On the Sexuality of Terrorism, W.W. Norton, 1989, Chapter 5.
  12. Stephen Pinker, The History of Violence, The New Republic, March 19, 2007.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 Introduction to sociology. 7th ed. New York: W.W. Norton & Company Inc, 2009. Page 187. Print.
  14. Introduction to sociology. 7th ed. New York: W.W. Norton & Company Inc, 2009. pages 189-190. Print.
  15. Pennell, Amanda. Browne, Kevin 1999 ‘Film violence and Young offenders’ Aggression and Violent behavior, pp 13-38.
  16. UNESCO 1961 and UNESCO 1964
  17. First, M.B., Bell, C.C., Cuthbert, B., Krystal, J.H., Malison, R., Offord, D.R., Riess, D., Shea, T., Widiger, T., Wisner, K.L., Personality Disorders and Relational Disorders, pp.164,166 Chapter 4 of Kupfer, D.J., First, M.B., & Regier, D.A. A Research Agenda For DSM-V. Published by American Psychiatric Association (2002)
  18. First, M.B., Bell, C.C., Cuthbert, B., Krystal, J.H., Malison, R., Offord, D.R., Riess, D., Shea, T., Widiger, T., Wisner, K.L., Personality Disorders and Relational Disorders, p.163, Chapter 4 of Kupfer, D.J., First, M.B., & Regier, D.A. A Research Agenda For DSM-V. Published by American Psychiatric Association (2002)
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 First, M.B., Bell, C.C., Cuthbert, B., Krystal, J.H., Malison, R., Offord, D.R., Riess, D., Shea, T., Widiger, T., Wisner, K.L., Personality Disorders and Relational Disorders, p.166, Chapter 4 of Kupfer, D.J., First, M.B., & Regier, D.A. A Research Agenda For DSM-V. Published by American Psychiatric Association (2002)
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 First, M.B., Bell, C.C., Cuthbert, B., Krystal, J.H., Malison, R., Offord, D.R., Riess, D., Shea, T., Widiger, T., Wisner, K.L., Personality Disorders and Relational Disorders, p.167,168 Chapter 4 of Kupfer, D.J., First, M.B., & Regier, D.A. A Research Agenda For DSM-V. Published by American Psychiatric Association (2002)
  21. [Hall RCW, Zisook S. Paradoxical Reactions to Benzodiazepines. Br J Clin Pharmacol 1981; 11: 99S-104S]
  22. Lader M, Morton S. Benzodiazepine Problems. British Journal of Addiction 1991; 86: 823-828}
  23. Benzodiazepines: Paradoxical Reactions & Long-Term Side-Effects
  24. Hansson O, Tonnby B. [Serious Psychological Symptoms Caused by Clonazepam.] Läkartidningen 1976; 73: 1210-1211.
  25. see: Joseph (Yossi) E. David, The One who is More Violent Prevails - Law and Violence from a Talmudic Legal Perspective, Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence, Vol. 19, No. 2, 2006
  26. Arendt, Hannah sfdhxvczgrsdfcxzrfergSDS n Violence. Harvest Book. p. 52..
  27. Twentieth Century Democide; [ Atlas - Wars and Democide of the Twentieth Century.
  28. "Uniform Crime Reporting Handbook" (PDF). Federal Bureau of Investigation. 2004. Archived from the original on 2005-03-25.
  29. Review of book “War Before Civilization” by Lawrence H. Keeley, July, 2004.
  30. Stephen Pinker.
  31. Amos Elon (2002), The Pity of It All: A History of the Jews in Germany, 1743-1933. Metropolitan Books. ISBN 0805059644. p.103
  32. "Doctrinal War: Religion and Ideology in International Conflict," in Bruce Kuklick (advisory ed.), The Monist: The Foundations of International Order, Vol. 89, No. 2 (April 2006), p. 46.
  33. The Brute Caricature, Ferris State University Museum of Racist Memorabilia.
  34. 42 M.V.M.O. Court Cases with Allegations of Multiple Sexual And Physical Abuse of Children.
  35. John Edwards' 'Bumper Sticker' Complaint Not So Off the Mark, New Memo Shows; Richard Clarke, Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror, Free Press; 2004; Michael Scheuer, Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror, Potomac Books Inc., June, 2004; Robert Fisk, The Great War for Civilisation - The Conquest of the Middle East, Fourth Estate, London, October 2005; Leon Hadar, The Green Peril: Creating the Islamic Fundamentalist Threat, August 27, 1992; Michelle Malkin, Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week kicks off, October 22, 2007; John L. Esposito, Unholy War: Terror in the Name of Islam, Oxford University Press, USA, September 2003.
  36. Vittoriio Bufacchi, Two Concepts of Violence, Political Studies Review, April 2005, Volume 3, Issue 2, Page 193-204.
  37. Michael Albert Life After Capitalism - And Now Too., December 10, 2004; Capitalism explained.
  38. Bruce Bawer, The Peace Racket, September 7, 2007.
  39. Hans-Hermann Hoppe, From the Economics of Laissez Faire to The Ethics of Libertarianism.
  40. Charles E. Butterworth and Irene Gendzier. “Frantz Fanon and the Justice of Violence. ”Middle East Journal, Vol. 28, No. 4 (Autumn, 1974), pp. 451-458
  41. (pg 44)
  42. Adele Jinadu. “Fanon: The Revolutionary as Social Philosopher.” The Review of Politics, Vol. 34, No. 3 (Jul., 1972), pp. 433-436
  43. Bharatan Kumarappa, Editor, "For Pacifists," by M.K. Gandhi, Navajivan Publishing House, Ahmedabad, India, 1949.
  44. CDC Definition of Violence.
  45. World Report on Violence and Health, October 3, 2002.
  46. WHO: 1.6 million die in violence annually.
  47. Brazil murder rate similar to war zone, data shows.
  48. Colombia's Uribe wins second term.
  49. Twentieth Century Atlas - Homicide.
  50. Jamaica 'murder capital of the world'.
  51. Crime Statistics.


External links

ar:عنف br:Feulster bg:Насилие ca:Violència cs:Násilí da:Vold de:Gewalt et:Vägivald el:Βία es:Violencia eo:Violento eu:Indarkeria fa:خشونت fr:Violence gl:Violencia ko:폭력 hr:Nasilje id:Kekerasan ia:Violentia it:Violenza he:אלימות kn:ಹಿಂಸಾಚಾರ lb:Gewalt lt:Smurtas hu:Erőszak ml:അക്രമം ms:Keganasan nl:Geweld ja:暴力 no:Vold nn:Vald pms:Violensa pl:Przemoc pt:Violência ksh:Verkamesööle qu:Atipakuy ru:Насилие simple:Violence sk:Násilie sr:Насиље sh:Nasilje fi:Väkivalta sv:Våld tr:Şiddet uk:Насильство zh:暴力

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.