From the Director’s Desk
Greetings Friends and Colleagues!
My last dispatch to you was posted on January 20, 2021. At that time, there was much anxiety about COVID-19 and all of us wondered what the future will bring. While crafting this message on December 3, 2021, the virus was still “alive and kicking.” It is likely to mutate again soon and thus there is still much uncertainty about what is in store for the world in 2022. What we know for sure, however, is that violence is still a world-wide problem, one that continues to be on the radar of scholars, policy makers, agents of social control, journalists, and the general public. This is not surprising here in the U.S. for many reasons, including the fact that homicide remains the leading cause of death for young black males. Keep in mind, too, that some U.S. cities like Chicago, Baltimore, and Saint Louis rank among the most violent urban areas in the world. To make matters worse, in October 2021, the Centers for Disease Control’s National Center for Health Statistics reported that the U.S. recorded its highest homicide rate increase in modern history. It rose 30% between 2019 and 2020. This figure, of course, should be read with caution because longitudinal data (e.g., a 10-year period) provide a more stable basis for drawing conclusions than statistics for a one-year period. In other words, it is unclear whether this increase is a “blip on the radar” or will end up being a long-term trend.
What is also crystal clear is that violence against women is a major international social problem, as it has been for centuries. Currently, international studies show that one in three women worldwide will be physically or sexually assaulted by an intimate partner in their lifetime. And, there is mounting evidence that offline and online variants of violence against women have intensified since the start of the outbreak of COVID-19.
These types of violence that we are experiencing in this current era constitute just the tip of iceberg. Ponder the worldwide rise in right-wing extremism, unjustified police violence against black and brown people, murders of trans or gender nonconforming women of color, and in corporations poisoning the planet with toxic waste. The current state of affairs is worse if the definition of violence is broadened to include homelessness, poverty, human rights violations, psychological abuse, state terrorism, and war. Certainly, much pain, suffering, and destruction is caused by harms not typically deemed as violent. This is why a broad definition of violence informs the research and policy work done by faculty and students affiliated with the Research Center on Violence at WVU.
Since the Center’s inception in April 2014, those connected with it have done “cutting-edge” research on topics of interest to communities around the world. This year, for example, members of the Center have published in widely read and cited journals like Violence Against Women, Dignity: A Journal of Analysis of Exploitation and Violence, Addiction Reports, and Violence and Gender. Additionally, I published a scholarly book titled Contemporary Critical Criminology (2nd ed.), and Center staff, including Graduate Research Assistant Danielle Stoneberg, have published chapters in scholarly books on topics ranging from the abuse of rural women to polyvictimization. More information about Center accomplishments can be found by clicking the link that leads you to the page titled “What’s Happening at the Center.”
Thank you for visiting the Center’s web site and please contact us if you would like more information about Center affiliates and the work they do. May 2022 bring you much peace, happiness, and joy!