This initial categorization differentiates between violence a person inflicts upon himself or herself, violence inflicted by another individual or by a small group of individuals, and violence inflicted by larger groups such as states, organized political groups, militia groups and terrorist organizations.

These three broad categories are each divided further to reflect more specific types of violence.

Corlin, past president of the American Medical Association said: "The United States leads the world—in the rate at which its children die from firearms." He concluded: "Gun violence is a threat to the public health of our country." Furthermore, violence often has lifelong consequences for physical and mental health and social functioning and can slow economic and social development.

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The former group includes forms of violence such as child abuse, intimate partner violence and abuse of the elderly.

The latter includes youth violence, random acts of violence, rape or sexual assault by strangers, and violence in institutional settings such as schools, workplaces, prisons and nursing homes.

Violence includes those acts that result from a power relationship, including threats and intimidation, neglect or acts of omission.

Such non-physical violence has a broad range of outcomes – including psychological harm, deprivation and maldevelopment.

When interpersonal violence occurs in families, its psychological consequences can affect parents, children, and their relationship in the short- and long-terms.

Child maltreatment is the abuse and neglect that occurs to children under 18 years of age.

Violence is primarily classified as either instrumental or reactive / hostile.

Self-directed violence is subdivided into suicidal behaviour and self-abuse.

These consequences can be immediate, as well as latent, and can last for years after the initial abuse.

Defining outcomes solely in terms of injury or death thus limits the understanding of the full impact of violence.

However, in both research and practice, the dividing lines between the different types of violence are not always so clear..