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By Nazo Shamal, PsyD, LCSW

Violence is behavior involving physical force with intentions to hurt or kill someone. Violence is a community problem that can quickly spiral out of control.

According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Division of Violence Prevention, youth violence is widespread in the United States and is the third leading cause of death for young people between the ages of 15 and 24.

  • In 2012, 4,787 young people aged 10 to 24 years were victims of homicide—an average of 13 each day.
  • Over 599,000 young people aged 10 to 24 years had physical assault injuries treated in U.S. emergency departments—an average of 1642 each day.
  • In 2013, 19.6% of high school students reported being bullied on school property and 14.8% reported being bullied electronically.
  • Each year, youth homicides and assault-related injuries result in an estimated $16 billion in combined medical and work loss costs.

There are some factors that may increase the risk for youth violence. According to recent studies, there are a number of factors that can reflect risk of violence, however if a youth presents with these factors it does not always mean they will engage in violent behaviors.

  • Prior history of violence
  • Drug, alcohol, or tobacco use
  • Association with negative peer groups
  • Poor family functioning
  • Poor grades in school
  • Poverty in the community

Youth violence is preventable. The main objective is to stop violence before it begins. Many schools of thought provide various strategies to prevent violence in youth. Common themes include teaching youth how to improve communication and problem solving skills. Violence stems from extreme distress and a lack of control over physical and mental processes. Here are some important ways to prevent violence in children/teens:

  • Improve family relations
  • Parent education on child development
  • Communication skills
  • Problem solving skills
  • Social development strategies on teaching youth how to handle tough situations
  • Being mentored by a good role model who guides the young person’s behavior
  • Changes can be made to the physical and social environment

Youth violence is a serious global public health problem. Researchers and prevention specialists are under pressure to identify the factors that place young people at risk for violence, to find out which interventions are working, and to design more effective prevention programs. Prevention efforts need to involve schools, families, neighborhoods and communities.

There are effective ways to prevent and reduce youth violence. Raising compassion, care, happiness and a well-adjusted attitude toward life may prevent someone from harming another human being. It begins with us.


Be Good to Yourself