Common Purpose: A model for enhancing complex service designs in the prevention of higher harm youth violence

Dr Colm Walsh

Violence is something of an enigma and responses to it are highly variable. The most recent global status report on violence against children (WHO, 2020) reports that 50% of children aged 2-17 experience some form of violence and more than one billion children and young people are exposed to interpersonal violence annually (Hillis, Mercy and Saul, 2017). Further, many children and young people do not experience violence as a single event, but as a condition of life (Falconer, Casale and Kuo, 2020). The effects of violence can be so enduring that preventing violence against children and young people is enshrined in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (e.g. SDG 16) and Article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.


To achieve these standards and respond to national policy, a process of understanding complex needs at regional, and even at local level is required. Public health approaches hold some utility. However, there are few accessible protocols of how these public health approaches are practically implemented – in other words, there are indicators of what could be implemented but little detail on how. This paper outlines a practically oriented public health approach using the ‘Common Purpose’ framework.


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