Violence prevention and harm reduction are a central focus in the Hesse Department of Social Welfare and Integration, a state-level ministry in Germany, with special emphasis on violence in the family, trafficking in human beings, youth aggression and crime.
The Department of Social Welfare and Integration is responsible for policies and legislative reforms promoting gender equality and supporting family, youth, and seniors, healthy communities, services for populations with special needs, public health and occupational health, the health professions, social security, labour promotion schemes and social entrepreneurship.
A leader in violence prevention, the Hesse Department of Social Welfare and Integration finances continuing education for professionals, parenting and care-giver skill-building initiatives, in addition to advocacy, counseling and shelters to reduce harm to violence victims. The Violence Prevention in Health Programme was set up in the state budget to facilitate knowledgeable health actor responses to violence and increase cooperation with protective services. In 2010 a pilot project was run in dentistry, enabling Hesse to publish the nation’s first scientifically validated dental health service protocol for documenting interpersonal violence, in particular intimate partner violence. Also in 2010 the nation’s first public health walk-in assessment centre for violence victims was set up in Fulda (Schutzambulanz Fulda). Capacity building in health has seen a boost through the secure web-based medico-legal consultancy https://forensisches-konsil-giessen.de/ established in 2014 and thanks to the coordinated care of adult victims of sexualized assault established in several cities in Hessen, the “medizinische Soforthilfe nach Vergewaltigung” approach, which links medical care with psycho-social and medico-legal services.
The Hesse Department of Social Welfare and Integration has been instrumental in creating formalized and sustainable multi-institutional cooperation in Hesse and internationally. The Department’s task forces involve experts from public agencies, NGOs and research. These advise on cabinet-level action plans, policy documents as well as pragmatic tools, such as health sector protocols for victims of intimate partner violence, sexualized violence and child abuse and neglect. Hesse violence prevention is also informed by research supported by competitive state, national and European grant funding. The Department continually contributes to European violence prevention projects and is a founding member of the world-wide Violence Prevention Alliance, an initiative of the World Health Organization to reinforce scientifically informed collaboration between sectors and across borders.