This Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) addresses the definition and prevalence of youth violence, as well as ways of preventing it through a strategy based in public-health concepts.
"Youth violence" is defined as "when persons aged 10-24 years, as victims, offenders, or witnesses, are involved in the intentional use of physical force or power to threaten or harm others." An examination of the prevalence of youth violence refers to the CDC's 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, in which one in four high-school students reported being in at least one physical fight in the past year, and 17.9 percent reported that they carried a weapon at least once in the past 30 days. Regarding the prevention of youth violence, this report notes that research supported by CDC and other groups has identified many approaches that contribute to significant reduction in youth violence and other risk behaviors. Most effective prevention approaches focus on modifying individual and familial behaviors, and a growing body of research shows the prevention potential of modifying community factors (e.g., physical environments and community norms about violence). This paper advises, however, that no one program, practice, or policy can address all the factors that contribute to youth violence. Research conducted by CDC's Youth Violence Prevention Centers shows that a comprehensive prevention approach is needed that includes multiple strategies in addressing individual, relationship, and community risk factors. The Chicago Youth Violence Prevention Center, for example, demonstrates that comprehensive public health approaches can have a broader reach and more sustained effects than the implementation of a single prevention program. Preliminary data suggest that between 2010 and 2013 there was a 50-percent decline in homicides in a Chicago community that used comprehensive strategies. 1 figure and 15 references
Date Published: February 1, 2015