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Youth Violence: Prevention Strategies

Youth violence is a serious problem that can have lasting harmful effects on victims and their family, friends, and communities. The goal for youth violence prevention is simple—to stop youth violence from happening in the first place. But the solutions are as complex as the problem.

Prevention efforts should aim to reduce factors that place youth at risk for perpetrating violence, and promote factors that protect youth at risk for violence. In addition, prevention should address all types of influences on youth violence: individual, relationship, community, and society. Effective prevention strategies are necessary to promote awareness about youth violence and to foster the commitment to social change.

Youth violence prevention—one of the oldest fields in violence—continues to advance rapidly. Many prevention tools have been developed and implemented; many of these prevention programs and strategies have been evaluated, and found to be effective at preventing violence and related behaviors among youth. Such evidence-based programs have shown positive effects in rigorous evaluations.

Effective and Promising Programs

  • Blueprints for Violence Prevention
    Blueprints is a national violence prevention initiative to identify violence prevention programs that are effective. The initiative has identified 11 “Model” prevention programs that meet a strict scientific standard of program effectiveness. The initiative has also identified 20 “Promising” programs that have been evaluated and also found to be effective. The key difference between “Model” and “Promising” Blueprints programs is that Promising programs have been evaluated once, while Model programs have been evaluated more than one time.
    STRYVE is a national initiative led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to prevent youth violence. To realize its vision—safe and healthy youth who can achieve their full potential as connected and contributing members of thriving, violence-free families, schools, and communities—STRYVE is working to increase awareness that youth violence can and should be prevented, promote the use of youth violence prevention approaches that are based on the best available evidence, and provide guidance to communities on how to prevent youth violence. STRYVE helps communities take a public health approach to preventing youth violence—stopping it before it even starts.
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Model Programs
    The SAMHSA Model Programs have been tested in communities, schools, social service organizations, and workplaces across America; many of these model programs show a reduction in substance abuse and other related high-risk behavior.
  • Systematic Reviews
    • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2007). The effectiveness of universal school-based programs for the prevention of violent and aggressive behavior: A report on recommendations of the Task Force on Community Preventive Services. MMWR, 56 (No. RR-7),1-12. Available in PDF
    • Hahn, R., Fuqua-Whitley, D., Wethington, H., Lowy, J., Crosby, A., Fullilove, M., et al. (2007). Effectiveness of universal school-based programs to prevent violent and aggressive behavior: a systematic review. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 33(2 Suppl), S114–129.
    • Wilson SJ, Lipsey MW, Derzon JH. The effects of school-based intervention programs on aggressive behavior: A meta-analysis. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 2003;71:136-49.
  • Violence Prevention Evidence Base
    This database, developed by The Centre for Public Health at Liverpool John Moores University, provides access to abstracts from published studies that have measured the effectiveness of interventions to prevent violence. To be included in the database, studies must have measured the impact of interventions directly on violence. Studies have been selected through a systematic review of published academic literature. The abstracts can be searched by violence type, keywords, and geographical area of implementation.
  • World Report on Violence and Health [PDF 278KB]
    This report is the first comprehensive review of the problem of violence on a global scale. Chapter 2 provides detailed information on youth violence, including prevention strategies.

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Guidelines and Planning Tools

  • School Health Guidelines to Prevent Unintentional Injuries and ViolenceThe guidelines help state and local educational agencies and schools promote safety and teach students the skills needed to prevent injuries and violence. It provides guidance for all components of a coordinated school health program for all grade levels.
  • School Health Index (SHI)
    SHI is a self-assessment and planning tool that enables a school to identify the strengths and weaknesses of its health and safety policies and programs; develop an action plan for improving student health and safety; and involve teachers, parents, students, and the community in improving school services.

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Other Resources

  • Academic Centers of Excellence in Youth Violence Prevention
    The National Academic Centers for Excellence (ACEs) on Youth Violence Prevention use a unique multidisciplinary approach to violence prevention. The centers research youth violence prevention approaches, collect and analyze surveillance data, and foster relationships with local community partners to help develop, implement, and evaluate promising prevention efforts. This collaboration between research universities and local communities and community-based organizations results in empowered communities that are mobilized to address the problem of youth violence.
  • CDC's Extramural Research Program
    CDC funds universities, medical centers and other outside organizations to conduct research related to youth violence prevention.
  • Efficacy of Schoolwide Programs to Promote Social and Character Development and Reduce Problem Behavior in Elementary School Children
    The report, Efficacy of Schoolwide Programs to Promote Social and Character Development and Reduce Problem Behavior in Elementary School Children (NCER 2011-2001), shows the impact of social and character development (SACD) programs on primary school students. Seven research teams received funding through a peer reviewed competitive application process to evaluate one SACD program of their choosing under an experimental design. Schools were randomly assigned to implement one of the seven SACD programs for three years (the treatment group) or continue with their traditional SACD activities (the control group). This report provides the results from the evaluation of the seven SACD programs, including results for youth violence-related outcomes.

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