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Injury and Violence

Injury and Violence Across the Life Stages

Injury and violence are pressing public health concerns at every stage of life. While older adults and children are most vulnerable to sustaining an injury that requires medical attention, Americans of all ages are susceptible to injury and violence.


  • Injuries resulting from motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for children age 0 to 19.1
  • Each year, approximately 2.8 million children go to the hospital emergency department for injuries caused by falling.1
  • Suffocation is the leading cause of injury death for infants age 1 and younger, and drowning is the leading cause of injury death for children age 1 to 4.1
  • A history of exposure to adverse experiences in childhood, including exposure to violence and maltreatment, is associated with health risk behaviors such as smoking, alcohol and drug use, and risky sexual behavior, as well as obesity, diabetes, sexually transmitted diseases, attempted suicide, and other health problems.2

Adolescents and Young Adults

  • Approximately 72% of all deaths among adolescents age 10 to 24 are attributed to injuries from 4 causes: motor vehicle crashes (30%), all other unintentional injuries (15%), homicide (15%), and suicide (12%).3
  • More than 1 million serious sports-related injuries occur each year among adolescents age 10 to 17.3


  • More than 2.3 million adult drivers and passengers were treated in emergency departments as the result of being injured in motor vehicle crashes in 2009.4
  • Each year, women experience about 4.8 million intimate partner-related physical assaults and rapes. Men are the victims of about 2.9 million intimate partner-related physical assaults.5
  • Every day on average, 12 working men and women are killed on the job.6 In 2009, more than 4.1 million workers across all industries had work-related injuries and illnesses that were reported by employers.

Older Adults

  • Each year, about one-third of men and women age 65 and older experience a fall, and 20% to 30% of them suffer a moderate to severe injury, such as a hip fracture or head injury.2
  • Injuries can make it more difficult for older adults to live independently, and injuries increase older adults' risk of premature death.

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Determinants of Injury and Violence

An individual’s risk of injury and violence may be impacted by many social, personal, economic, and environmental factors. For example, the physical environment, both in the home and community, can affect the rate of injuries related to falls, fires, burns, road traffic incidents, drowning, and violence.

Understanding these various determinants of health and how they may overlap to create disparities in injury and violence is key to improving the health and safety of all Americans. For example:

  • Communities and streets can be designed to reduce pedestrian, bicyclist, and motor vehicle-related injuries.
  • Exercise programs, medication review, home modifications, and vision screening can prevent falls among older adults.
  • Housing, economic development, and education initiatives show promise in reducing rates of crime and violence.

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1Borse NN, Gilchrist J, Dellinger AM, et al. CDC Childhood Injury Report: Patterns of Unintentional Injuries Among 0 to 19 Year Olds in the United States, 2000–2006. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; 2008. Available from: [PDF - 2MB]

2National Prevention Council, Office of the Surgeon General, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Prevention Strategy. Washington, DC: 2011. Available from [PDF - 4.66MB]

3National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Healthy Youth: Injury and Violence. Atlanta, GA: 2010. Available from

4National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Injury Prevention and Control: Motor Vehicle Safety. Atlanta, GA: 2011. Available from

5Division of Violence Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Understanding Intimate Partner Violence. Atlanta, GA: 2011.

6American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations. Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect: A National State-by-State Profile of Worker Safety and Health in the United States. Washington, DC: 2011. Available from [PDF - 3.07MB]

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