Youth Violence Prevention

Youth violence is a serious public health problem that affects physical, mental and emotional health. It can occur in various forms among adolescents including bullying, slapping, hitting, robbery, assault and homicide.

  • Almost 40 percent of male and 23 percent of female high school students have reported being in a physical fight within the last year.
  • Each year, almost 700,000 young people are treated in emergency departments for violence-related injuries, which can include cuts, broken bones or gunshot wounds.
  • Homicide was the second leading cause of death for youth ages 10 to 24, in 2007.

Public Health Prevention Options for Policymakers
Policymakers can play a role in preventing youth violence by involving and collaborating with the education, juvenile justice, and mental and public health systems. In 2009, to better understand and address issues facing young people, 12 state legislatures addressed youth violence and school safety concerns by creating task forces, advisory panels, and youth advisory councils. To prevent youth violence, policymakers may consider encouraging comprehensive prevention programs that engage communities to change social attitudes and behavior. Policymakers may want to:

  • Become familiar with and support intervention programs based on the best available evidence that addresses the social and economic causes of youth violence.
  • Require coordination between community-based youth violence prevention programs, as recently addressed by the Minnesota Legislature in House Bill 1328 (2010).
  • Support the evaluation of existing state and local policies to identify effective strategies to prevent youth violence and inform future legislative actions.

Sources: NCSL, 2010; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Striving to Reduce Youth Violence Everywhere (STRYVE), STRYVE Online

United States Map of Percent of High School Students in a Physical Fight at Least Once in the Last 12 Months, 2009