About Community Violence

Key points

  • The physical, emotional, and financial pain from experiencing or witnessing violence affects individuals, their families, and communities.
  • Homicides and other violent acts cause substantial harm in communities across the country, especially in racially segregated and high-poverty neighborhoods.
A man and a child are sitting and talking on steps outside a housing area. A basketball lies at the feet of the young boy.

What is community violence?

Community violence happens between unrelated individuals, who may or may not know each other, generally outside the home. Examples include assaults or fights among groups and shootings in public places, such as schools and on the streets.

Research indicates that youth and young adults (ages 10-34), particularly those in Black and Latino communities, are disproportionately impacted.1

Community violence affects millions of people and their families, schools, and communities every year.

Quick facts and stats

Community violence results in the loss of thousands of lives every year. Many more people are injured or witness violence in their communities.

Youth and young adults are disproportionately impacted by violence in their communities, including firearm injuries and deaths.1

  • For youth ages 10 to 24, homicide is the second leading cause of death. 2
  • For people 25 to 34, homicide is the third leading cause of death.2
  • Nearly 15,000 youth and young adults lost their lives to homicide in 2021.2
  • Over 700,000 young people are treated and released in U.S. emergency departments each year for injuries resulting from violence. 2


Community violence can cause significant physical injuries, including death, of community members.

Living in a community experiencing violence is also associated with increased risk of developing chronic diseases. Concerns about violence may prevent some people from engaging in healthy behaviors, such as walking, bicycling, using parks, and accessing healthy food.3

Violence scares people out of participating in neighborhood activities, limits business growth, strains education, justice, and medical systems, and slows community progress.3

Youth and young adults can be victims, perpetrators, or witnesses of violence. People with multiple adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), including exposure to violence, are more likely to have physical and mental health conditions and behavioral difficulties.4

People at increased risk

People's health outcomes are influenced by the conditions in which they live, work, play, and learn. These conditions are called social determinants of health. Systemic racism, bias and discrimination, economic instability, concentrated poverty, and limited housing, education, and healthcare access drive health inequities.5

Communities of color often disproportionately experience these negative conditions, placing residents at greater risk for poor health outcomes. For example, Black, American Indian and Alaskan Native, and Hispanic/Latino persons experience higher rates of homicide than other racial and ethnic groups.2


Efforts to prevent community violence can include improving the conditions that increase the risk for violence. Addressing the social and economic conditions of people’s everyday lives may prevent community violence experienced by today’s youth and future generations.

Street outreach programs and hospital-based violence intervention programs, can provide urgently needed support to help reduce immediate risks for violence, including escalating or retaliatory violence. These types of approaches are important to save lives and make communities safer. 

A comprehensive approach that includes strategies addressing societal factors such as economic security and quality education, as well as strategies intervening to lessen immediate harms can have the greatest short and long-term impact. 

To prevent community violence, it is important to collaborate with different sectors, including government, justice, housing, public health, community-led organizations, and others. Everyone can play a role in putting the evidence into action as we work together towards communities free from violence.

Check out Violence Prevention in Practice‎

CDC's Violence Prevention in Practice tool is designed to support state and local health agencies and other stakeholders who have a role in planning, implementing, and evaluating violence prevention efforts.
  1. Sheats KJ, Irving SM, Mercy JA, Simon TR, Crosby AE, Ford DC, et al. Violence-related disparities experienced by black youth and young adults: opportunities for prevention. American journal of preventive medicine 2018;55(4):462-469.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS). 2023 [cited 2023 October 12]; Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/index.html
  3. Institute on Medicine and National Research Council. Social and economic costs of violence: Workshop summary. . Washington D.C.: The National Academies Press; 2012.
  4. Merrick MT, Ford DC, Ports KA, Guinn AS, Chen J, Klevens J, et al. Vital signs: estimated proportion of adult health problems attributable to adverse childhood experiences and implications for prevention—25 states, 2015–2017. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 2019;68(44):999.
  5. Braveman PA, Arkin E, Proctor D, Kauh T, Holm N. Systemic And Structural Racism: Definitions, Examples, Health Damages, And Approaches To Dismantling: Study examines definitions, examples, health damages, and dismantling systemic and structural racism. Health Affairs 2022;41(2):171-178.