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6 Core messages about violence

Although the messages below emerged from our research into the causes of violence, our subsequent research shows the same causal links and pathways can equally be assigned to all manner of dysfunctional behaviour, to levels of physical and mental health and to levels of educational and employment achievement throughout the life course.

  1. Violence is a behaviour that is caused and can be prevented.
  2. Propensity for violence develops mainly through maltreatment before age 3. Family influence is the key factor.
  3. Environment plays a major role in shaping the structure of the infant brain – and determining propensity.
  4. Maltreatment of children has long-term consequences for their mental and physical health.
  5. Attunement (or connectedness) between parent and infant produces the key antidote to internal propensity.
  6. Prevention does work and there is a powerful economic case for it.

(see especially the Economics Appendix in our 2013 report Conception to age 2 - the age of opportunity)