Violence Impacts Teens’ Lives

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* during 12 months before the survey

Overview

Violence is preventable. We can all help young people grow up violence-free. Violence can limit life opportunities, lead to emotional and physical health problems, and shorten lives. Far too commonly, teens 14 to 18 years old experience violence, often more than one type such as physical fighting, sexual violence, dating violence, and bullying.

  • Every day about 360 teens are treated in emergency departments for assault injuries.
  • Homicide is the 3rd leading cause of death among teens.
  • Female teens are more likely than males to experience three or more types of violence, as are sexual minority teens compared to their heterosexual peers.
  • Some teens may have a higher risk of online bullying and threats during COVID-19.
  • Violence can impact school attendance and access to community support services.

Teens who experience violence have several health conditions and risk behaviors, including:

  • Missed school due to safety concerns
  • Low academic grades
  • Carried a weapon
  • Suicidal thoughts or behavior
  • Risky sexual behavior
  • Overweight or obesity
  • Felt sad or hopeless
  • Substance use
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As teens experience more violence, their health risks increase.

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View Text Description

SOURCE: Youth Risk Behavior Survey, United States, 2019, CDC Vital Signs, MMWR February 2021.

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Directly engaging teens in preventing violence helps them:

  • Make healthy choices.
  • Be a leader and voice for change for healthier communities and schools.
  • Advise community and school decision-makers.
  • Promote respect and empathy with family, friends, and peers.
Problem
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Violence can disrupt teens’ development and harm their current and future health.

Preventing violence is key to promoting teen and adult health.

A teen’s brain is still growing. Experiencing violence during this time of life can harm development and contribute to:

  • Impaired decision-making.
  • Learning challenges.
  • Decreased connections to peers and adults.
  • Trouble coping with stress.

Violence can also affect teens’ physical health and increase the chance of developing cancer, heart disease, or other health problems in adulthood.

We can protect teens now and support their growth into healthy adults by preventing violence.

The Way Forward

Parents and Families Can:

  • Learn about links between teens’ experiences with violence and their health.
  • Talk with teens about violence and ask how you can support them.
  • Reach out to local programs to learn effective parenting practices.

Communities Can:

  • Make teen mentoring, apprenticeship, and leadership programs more available.
  • Collaborate with health departments and other partners to promote healthy and safe neighborhoods.
  • Make use of effective social and economic policies that reduce violence.

Visit: CDC Technical Packages

Schools Can:

  • Adopt policies and practices that create safe and supportive environments.
  • Teach teens skills to navigate social and emotional challenges.
  • Connect students to health and mental health services.
  • Build strong bonds between staff and students to improve connectedness to school.

Visit: CDC What Works in Schools

CDC is taking steps to prevent violence before it starts. Join us!

Social Media Toolkit
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Image of masked teens working at a local food drive.

Students identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or unsure were more likely to experience 3 or more types of violence.

Sample Facebook Posts

  • A teen’s brain is still growing, and violence can disrupt teens’ development + harm their current + future health. Parents, families, communities + schools all play a role in preventing violence for young people. Learn more in new @CDCgov Vital Signs: usa.gov/xAMYjexternal icon
  • New Vital Signs report from @CDCgov shows that teens who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or not sure of their sexual identity were more likely to experience violence than their heterosexual peers. Schools can adopt policies and practices to create safe and supportive environments for all young people. Learn more: usa.gov/xAMYjexternal icon
  • Experiencing violence as a teen can harm development and increase the chance of health problems in adulthood. Teens, parents, families, communities, and schools all play a role in preventing violence. Learn more in Vital Signs: usa.gov/xAMYjexternal icon
  • Teens ages 14-18 years old experience violence way too often. We can all help young people live a life free from violence. Learn more in our recent @CDCgov Vital Signs report: usa.gov/xAMYjexternal icon

Sample Tweets

  • A teen’s brain is still growing, and violence can disrupt teens’ development and harm their current and future health. We can all help young people live a life free from violence. Find your role in new @CDCgov #VitalSigns: usa.gov/xAMYjexternal icon
  • New #VitalSigns report shows that teens who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or not sure of their sexual identity were more likely to experience violence than their heterosexual peers. Schools can create safe + supportive environments for all young people. Learn more: usa.gov/xAMYjexternal icon
  • At least 16 health conditions and risky behaviors are related to experiencing violence as a teen. As teens experience more violence, their health risks increase. Preventing violence supports young people to become healthy adults. #VitalSigns usa.gov/xAMYjexternal icon
  • Teens ages 14-18 years old experience violence way too often. We can all help young people live a life free from violence. Learn more in the new #VitalSigns: usa.gov/xAMYjexternal icon

For More Information

1-800-CDC-INFO (232-4636)

TTY: 1-888-232-6348

Web: www.cdc.gov

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

1600 Clifton Road NE

Atlanta, GA 30333

Publication date: February 4, 2021