Disparities in violence

Violence has profound effects. An assault, a shooting, a homicide, or any use of force affects people in many deep ways.

Violence causes physical and emotional harm. It can inflict fear, a constant sense of unease. It can cause short- and long-term trauma. Violence can affect people throughout their lives - including their health. It can lead to poor birth outcomes, compromised childhood development, negative health behaviors, physical and mental illness, and premature deaths.

And violence doesn’t just affect the immediate people harmed. It ripples throughout a community, affecting family members, loved ones, friends, and neighbors.

Violence is a pressing public health threat

Violence is a real and pressing public health threat, and it doesn’t affect New Yorkers equally.

We can look at violence by looking at data on non-fatal assault hospitalizations - violence that results in somebody going to the hospital, but not dying. While the hospitalization data capture where the person injured in the assault lives – and not where the assault occurred – they can be interpreted as indicators of violence in the neighborhood.

In this map, we can see that the highest rates of non-fatal assault hospitalizations - the darkest shades of purple on the map - are concentrated in the Bronx, parts of Harlem, northeastern Brooklyn, and northern Staten Island.

Hospitalization rates for these neighborhoods are nearly 4 times the City’s average:

These higher rates of violence means that the health consequences ripple throughout the residents of these neighborhoods - often with devastating consequences.

A major inequity is driving these different rates - poverty.

Violence is highest in NYC neighborhoods with higher rates of poverty.

Any adverse health outcome that affects one population more than another - a health inequity - deserves special scrutiny. New York City’s high-poverty neighborhoods, which also have a higher percentage of residents of color, were created and maintained by systemic racism and historical disinvestment. The resulting higher rates of violence that exist in these communities create an unjust health disparity experienced by their residents.

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is committed to understanding the health impacts of violence and the historical and current inequities underlying it so that we can work to address them.

Banner image:
Benjamin Kanter/Mayoral Photography Office
Published on:
February 13, 2020