As part of a worldwide movement to reduce injuries and save lives, Dallas was the first city in the United States to be designated an international Safe Community in 1996 by the World Health Organization (WHO). Led by the Injury Prevention Center of Greater Dallas, the city was re-designated in 2007 and 2011 .
The Safe Communities movement grew out of the First World Conference on Accident and Injury Prevention, held in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1989. The Manifesto for Safe Communities states that "All human beings have an equal right to health and safety." This is a fundamental aspect of the WHO’s "Health for All" strategy and for the WHO Global Program on Accident Prevention and Injury Control. The Safe Communities model builds infrastructure in local communities for injury and violence prevention by actively involving the communities in program planning, implementation and evaluation.
Communities seeking international designation must meet seven Indicators established by the WHO Collaborating Center on Community Safety Promotion and the Safe Communities program:
- Demonstrate leadership based on partnership and collaborations with all community sectors that are responsible for safety promotion in their community.
- Implement long-term, sustainable programs covering both genders and all ages, environments, situations, and includes preparing their citizens for emergencies and disasters.
- Implement programs that target high-risk groups and environments and programs that promote safety for vulnerable groups.
- Implement programs that are based on the available evidence.
- Collect data on the number and causes of injuries.
- Evaluate programs, processes and the effects of change.
- Participate in national and international Safe Communities networks.
Safe Communities America, a program of The National Safety Council, is the Safe Communities Affiliate Support Center as well as a Certifying Center for the World Health Organization Collaborating Center. As the U.S. arm of the WHO’s Collaborating Centre on Community Safety Promotion, Safe Communities America encourages and supports those communities aspiring to the International Safe Community designation. In 2010, Safe Communities America received designation as a certifying center, providing it with the ability to perform program assessments, certifications and ongoing evaluations of community safety promotion efforts.
In addition to the established international network of Safe Communities, regional networks facilitate further collaboration and cooperation among the Safe Communities members within their regions. The Pan-Pacific Safe Community Network (PPSCN) functions as a distinct body within the International Safe Communities movement, addressing the unique needs and issues of its members while furthering the network’s cooperation at the international level. Membership is comprised of communities from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States.
The PPSCN was created in 2011 under the direction of the Coordinating Committee . Its current membership includes over 100 communities, in addition to Affiliate and Certifying Centers. For more information, visit the PPSCN website regarding its mission, members, resources and other issues of interest.
“Because of our commitment to evaluation, we have been able to determine which strategies are producing the desired results and which ones are not,” says Shelli Stephens Stidham, director of IPC. “The strategies being implemented are more effective, which continues to make Dallas a safer city.”
“We are proud and honored to be part of making Dallas the safest city to live, learn, work and play in Texas, the United States and the world,” Stephens-Stidham says.