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Violence Research Centre


The Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation (HFG) released Violence and the Pandemic: Urgent Questions for Research, a concise report covering implications of Covid-19 for violence prevention research and policy.

Our director, Prof Manuel Eisner, and Prof Amy Nivette (Utrecht University, The Netherlands) analysed worldwide data and trends to explore future research areas related to the pandemic, including which types of violence are decreasing or rising – whether societal or political, in the public arena or behind closed doors.

Joel Wallman, Director of Research at HFG, explained: “We wanted to identify questions for research that could both augment understanding of the normal mechanisms of violence production and reduction and - ideally - contribute to reducing violence where the lockdown was exacerbating it. We approached Professors Eisner and Nivette, scholars of deep expertise in the study of violence. We are very pleased with the report they have produced for us.

“Our Foundation provides grants for research on violence of every sort, from the interpersonal to violence between nations. We fund both advanced graduate students and more senior scholars in the social sciences, history, and neuroscience. We are also committed to dissemination of knowledge about the sources of violence and what works to reduce it.

“In the global crisis the novel Coronavirus has created, the world’s attention is justifiably focused on the horrific health effects of COVID-19 and the economic devastation it has wrought. But, given HFG’s mission, it seemed to us useful to glean and publicize what is known so far about the effects the preventive lockdown is having on various sorts of violence, the social and psychological mechanisms underlying those effects, and the directions violence is likely to take as the pandemic evolves."

The authors believe that, “Violence researchers across the world are uniquely equipped to formulate and provide timely answers to these and other urgent questions. High-quality research, grounded in theory and rigorous in methodology, on how the COVID-19 emergency affects violence, what we can learn from drops in violence, and how to counter increased violence can inform policy, practice, and action, as the pandemic continues to unfurl and as the globe grapples with its long-lasting aftermath.”

Topics explored include both street and domestic violence, armed conflicts and terrorism and psychological insights on hatred, scapegoats and conspiracy theories. Research on these themes will impact policy as variations in violence trends and patterns can inform governments on where and how to target and deliver interventions to effectively defuse triggers and maintain public order in times of crisis.


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