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Do bars and pubs increase risk for domestic violence?

A recent study suggested that certain environmental factors within neighborhoods in Louisiana and around the country could present an increased risk for domestic violence.

The study, conducted by the Prevention Research Center, suggested that there is a direct correlation between the number of bars and pubs in a neighborhood and instances of domestic violence. A professor at Louisiana State University in New Orleans was not involved with the actual study, but pointed out that it was essentially groundbreaking. While researchers have studied this trend overseas, this is the first study of its kind in the states.

The study was conducted in California where researchers examined the density of bars and pubs within a zip code and compared it with data collected from emergency department visits reported for intimate partner violence. This study went on for 3.5 years to find any possible ties between the two factors.

The data suggested that with the increase of one bar or pub within a square mile contributed to a 3 percent increase in the risk for domestic violence. In the same study, researchers found that establishments that sell alcohol, but do not allow patrons to drink it there (i.e. liquor or grocery stores) reduced the risk for domestic violence. Restaurants had no effect on domestic violence.

Researchers were not surprised that restaurants had no effect. Generally, people go to a restaurant to get a meal, whether or not they consume alcohol with it. Patrons often go to a bar for the sole purpose of consuming alcohol.

The only issue in the study was the prevalence of liquor stores or a similar establishment actually drove down the risk for domestic violence. Some could speculate that by consuming alcohol at home and not in the bar environment, one is less like to engage in a physical altercation.

Regardless of the reasoning behind this data, domestic violence is a common and serious crime. Spouses or loved ones that find themselves in these situations should take precautions and seek resources in order to get out of the relationship immediately.

Source: MedPage Today, "Rise in domestic violence seen in areas near bars," Michael Smith, Feb. 17, 2012

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