An obscure public health issue

Authored by: Dennis E. Reidy , Kristin M. Holland

Routledge International Handbook of Psychopathy and Crime

Print publication date:  August  2018
Online publication date:  August  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138085169
eBook ISBN: 9781315111476
Adobe ISBN:


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The public health model for violence prevention seeks to identify risk and protective factors that cut across multiple forms of violence in order to prevent multiple forms of violence. Psychopathy is a cross-cutting risk factor for multiple forms of violence. Significant levels of psychopathic traits manifest in a small proportion of the population, yet this population is responsible for a disproportionate amount of violence in the population. Consequently, focusing prevention efforts on this minority of the population may prevent a majority of the violence. The public health approach to violence prevention involves intervening before the onset of violent behavior, which is feasible for violence prevention among a psychopathic population, as psychopathic traits can be reliably and validly measured as early as 3 years of age. Further, the most effective prevention programs are those that are implemented during childhood before psychopathic traits become engrained and less susceptible to change. Thus, the theoretical tenets of the public health approach to violence prevention can be applied directly to psychopathy prevention and should therefore be considered in development of future programs, practices, and policies in an effort to prevent not only psychopathy but also violent outcomes associated with the disorder.

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