Special Feature: Youth Violence

While statistics show that youth violence has been on the decline in America, it remains one of the leading causes of death for young people.

The term “youth violence” refers to when young people, aged 10-24 years, intentionally use physical force or power to threaten or harm others. Youth violence can take different forms, such as fighting, bullying, threats with weapons, and gang-related violence. It typically involves youth perpetrating violence against other young people.

Over the past decade, there has been a significant drop in juvenile arrests nationwide. Trends since 1980 reveal that juvenile arrest rates in 2012 for all crime index offense categories were at historic low levels.

Youth violence is the third leading cause of death for young people between the ages of 15 and 24. Yet, deaths resulting from youth violence are only part of the problem. Many young people need medical care for violence-related injuries. These injuries can include cuts, bruises, broken bones, and gunshot wounds. Some injuries can lead to lasting disabilities.

The likelihood of youth engaging in violence is influenced by youth’s skills and experience, as well as characteristics of their relationships and community.

Although kids in gangs are far more likely than kids not involved in gangs to be both victims and perpetrators of violence, the risks go far beyond crime and violence. Gang-involved youth are more likely to engage in substance abuse and high-risk sexual behavior and to experience a wide range of potentially long-term health and social consequences. This includes school dropout, teen parenthood, family problems, and unstable employment.

Each neighborhood and community has unique experiences with violence and different resources available to them. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to preventing youth violence. However, communities can help reduce youth violence by developing a city-wide strategy that combines prevention, intervention, treatment, and reentry strategies.

To help efforts, OJJDP has funded key initiatives and, drawing on that experience and expertise of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, constructed a framework for action to help communities reduce and prevent youth violence.

The pages of this Special Feature contain publications and resources related to youth violence and the prevention of such violence. Please select a topic from the box at the right under the heading "Youth Violence" to learn more.