When community institutions are weakened, people feel alone and respond to uncertainty by assuming the worst outcomes, carrying weapons, and responding to aggression with more aggression.

Branka Drasković

Violence is a global phenomenon that kills more than 1.6 million people each year, making it one of the leading causes of death worldwide.

Violence has also proven to be an incredibly costly phenomenon. The total impact of violence on the world economy is estimated at $13.6 trillion – a figure equivalent to 13.3 percent of world GDP.

In addition, violence places a heavy burden on health and justice systems, social welfare services and community economies.

The high rate of violence in all countries of the world, including in our country, is a consequence of social, economic and political challenges such as social inequality, rapid urbanization, poverty, unemployment and institutional deficiencies.

The global COVID 19 pandemic has exacerbated risk factors for violence, like loneliness, isolation and economic instability. Violence also tends to increase in times of uncertainty, especially when distrust of public institutions is high.  On top of that, social media serves as an accelerator, fueling anger and inadequate response patterns.

When community institutions are weakened, people feel alone and respond to uncertainty by assuming the worst outcomes, carrying weapons, and responding to aggression with more aggression. This theory is supported by analyses which show that now more people are carrying guns than before.

The main weaknesses of the system when it comes to prevention and protection against violence in our country are:

– Lack of a functional, central body that would be responsible for coordinating, monitoring and evaluating the effects of policies and measures for prevention and protection.

– Lack of developed methodology for systematic monitoring of the application of existing protocols.

– Lack of a centralized database.

– Monitoring and evaluation processes of interventions (laws, policies, measures, programs, services) are rare and unsystematic

– Interventions do not take into account the socio-economic context.

– The system is more focused on response and protection than on prevention. Prevention programs are rare, rather than regular or systematic and usually do not have a large scope.

– Parenting and family support programs are weak or non-existent.

– There is a lack of raising awareness and work to change social norms, values and attitudes (continuation of campaigns of zero tolerance towards violence, encouraging non-violent communication, banning violent disciplining of children and encouraging gender equality and non-discrimination.

Special attention should be paid to digital violence, to which women and children are most exposed. Any person can be affected by crime and violence either by experiencing it directly or indirectly, such as witnessing violence in their community or hearing about crime and violence from other residents. We are talking about both direct and indirect violence.

Serbia is at a high risk of violence. The biggest problem in our country are good laws but poor implementation, as well as poor coordination between institutions that deal with both the prevention and consequences of violence.

It is necessary to work harder on the prevention of violence and the education of children and adolescents. The measures taken so far are those that are visible (school police officers). Their role is very important, but it is much more important for young people to develop emotional self-control and other mechanisms that contribute to the control of aggression and its management.

Although violence is often viewed and responded to as an inevitable part of the human condition, these assumptions are changing, the focus is broadening, and in our country much greater emphasis should be placed on the prevention of violent behavior, rather than its consequences.

In order for prevention efforts to be successful, it is necessary to work on a better understanding of this complex phenomenon. Moral codes can vary widely around the world, making it a challenge to address the often sensitive topic of violence, its causes and consequences. Still, it is necessary to reach some form of common understanding in order to effectively protect human life and dignity.


Branka Drašković, psychologist, employed at the FEFA faculty in Belgrade