Prevention Strategies

Youth and community violence are serious problems that can have lasting harmful effects on victims, their families, and entire communities. Prevention of community violence is possible. A strong and growing research base shows that multiple prevention strategies are scientifically proven to reduce violence and associated risk factors.

CDC has summarized the best available evidence in Youth Violence Prevention Resource for Action [4 MB, 64 Pages]. This Resource for Action, formerly known as, “technical package,” represents a select group of strategies to help communities and states sharpen their focus on prevention activities with the greatest potential to prevent youth and community violence and its consequences. The Division of Violence Prevention (DVP) is in the process of updating and expanding this Resource for Action and has developed this summary table with descriptions of newly added examples that meet the criteria for inclusion (i.e., meta-analyses or systematic reviews or rigorous experimental or quasi-experimental* evaluation studies on youth or community violence or on risk and protective factors). The examples provided are not intended to be a comprehensive list of evidence-based programs, policies, or practices for each approach but rather illustrate models that have been shown to decrease youth or community violence victimization or perpetration or have beneficial effects on risk or protective factors for youth or community violence. More in-depth information about the new examples is provided below. Learn more about implementation resources and considerations on Violence Prevention in Practice.

* Quasi-experimental designs are those without random assignment and include a range of designs. Random assignment is not always possible in evaluations of youth and community violence programs, policies, and practices conducted in real-world settings.

Preventing Youth Violence and Community Violence

Preventing Youth Violence and Community Violence

Strategy Approach Example Programs, Policies, and Practices
Strengthen economic supports (new)
  • Individual and household financial security (new)
  • Tax credits (new evidence)
Promote Family Environments that Support Healthy Development
  • Early childhood home visitation
  • Parenting skill and family relationships programs
  • Nurse-Family Partnership
  • The Incredible Years
  • Parent Management Training – Oregon Model
  • Strengthening Families 10-14
  • Coping Power
  • Familias Unidas
Provide Quality Education Early in Life
  • Preschool enrichment with family engagement
  • Child Parent Centers
  • Early Head Start
Strengthen Young People’s Skills
  • Universal school-based programs
  • Job training and employment programs (new)
  • Good Behavior Game
  • Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies
  • LifeSkills Training
  • Steps to Respect
  • Year Up (new)
  • Summer youth employment programs (new)
Connect Youth to Caring Adults and Activities
  • Mentoring Programs
  • Afterschool programs
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters of America
  • Los Angeles’s Better Educated Students for Tomorrow
  • After School Matters
Create Protective Environments
  • Modify the physical and social environment
  • Reduce exposure to community-level risks
  • Street outreach and community norm change
  • Improve school climate and safety (new)
  • Business Improvement Districts
  • Crime Prevention through Environmental Design
  • Alcohol policies (outlet density, pricing)
  • Compulsory education laws (new)
  • Cure Violence
  • Safe Streets
  • Chicago Safe Passage (new)
  • School restorative justice programs (new)
Intervene to Lessen Harms and Prevent Future Risk
  • Treatment to lessen harms of violence exposure
  • Treatment to prevent problem behavior and future involvement in violence
  • Hospital-community partnerships
  • Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy®
  • Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Trauma in Schools
  • Functional Family Therapy
  • Multidisciplinary Treatment Foster Care
  • Multisystemic Therapy®
  • SafERteens
  • Caught in the Crossfire
Summaries for Newly Added Examples of Programs, Policies, and Practices

Strengthen Economic Supports

Tax credits

Summary: Tax credits for families with children like state and federal Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC), help individuals and families with lower incomes increase their income while incentivizing work. The federal EITC is one example. The amount of the federal EITC varies depending on income earned through work, marital status, and the number of qualifying children. States also have EITCs, which vary in eligibility requirements and funding amounts. State tax credit amounts are usually a percentage of the federal EITC. An analysis of state EITC laws found that implementing a high state EITC was associated with a 10% lower rate of violent crime. EITCs may also have important implications for addressing racial inequities. An analysis of EITC laws over time found that the EITC was associated with a reduction in income gaps among White and Black households in the bottom half of the income distribution. However, these reductions were only observed at the 50th and 25th percentile of the income distribution and not for households with very low incomes. These findings indicate that while EITC may help reduce Black or African American and White household income gaps for some groups, other individual and household economic supports may also be needed to fully address income gaps for households with the lowest incomes.

Lead Sectors: Government, Treasury

Hardy, B., Hokayem, C., & Ziliak, J.P. (2022). Income inequality, race, and the EITC. National Tax Journal, 75(1). DOI: external icon
Lenhart, O. (2021). Earned income tax credit and crime. Contemporary Economic Policy, 39(3), 589-607. DOI: icon

Strengthen Young People’s Skills

Year Up

Summary: Year Up, a national training program, teaches students in urban communities high-demand technical and professional skills, connects them with employers, and provides college credits through agreements with local colleges. The full-time program provides a range of extensive supports, including weekly stipends to help cover transportation and other program-related expenses. A randomized controlled trial of Year Up found associations between participation in the program and protective factors for youth and community violence, including increases in employment, higher earnings, and reductions in financial hardships.

Lead Sectors: Business, Education, Government

Fein, D., & Hamadyk, J. (2018). Bridging the opportunity divide for low-income youth: Implementation and early impacts of the Year Up program. OPRE Report #2018-65 (and Appendices). Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved from

Summer youth employment programs

Summary: While the focus varies, summer youth employment programs often provide work experience to youth and young adults (up to age 25) with wages paid or supplemented by local government agencies. Programs can also provide adult mentoring and various training related to job preparedness and life skills. Multiple randomized controlled trials (RCTs) find promising effects for violence prevention. While the effects on other outcomes (e.g., academic success and future employment) vary and are often small, effects on violent crime, can be substantial. For example, an RCT in Chicago found a 43% reduction in violent crime over 16 months for high school students in the jobs program relative to those in the control condition. A similar study in Boston found a 35% reduction in violent crime during the 17 months after youth participated in a summer youth employment program.

Lead Sectors: Business, Education, Government

Heller, S.B. (2014). Summer jobs reduce violence among disadvantaged youth. Science. 346 (6214): pp. 1219-1223. DOI: 10.1126/science.1257809

Modestino, A. S. (2019). How do summer youth employment programs improve criminal justice outcomes, and for whom?. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management38(3), 600-628. DOI:

Lehman, C. F. (2021). Crime-Fighting Lessons from Summer Youth Employment Programs. Manhattan Institute. Retrieved from iconexternal icon

Create Protective Community Environments

School restorative justice programs

Summary: School restorative justice (RJ) programs build relationships to resolve conflict and avoid harm instead of suspending or expelling students.  RJ programs and practices (like peer mediation) are usually implemented as an alternative to traditional policies that are punishment-focused and remove or exclude students from their usual educational settings (like zero-tolerance policies). RJ includes formal and informal practices that help students repair harm, improve relationships, and teach students how to work together in proactive, respectful ways to constructively resolve conflicts. A systematic review of 34 studies, including 6 randomized controlled trials and one quasi-experimental study, found that restorative practices are associated with a range of benefits relative to traditional discipline practices, including lower rates of aggression and bullying, as well as fewer suspensions and expulsions. Restorative justice programs have the potential to reduce the racial and ethnic inequities and harmful consequences of zero-tolerance policies.

Lead Sectors: Education, Community Organizations

Lodi, E., Perrella, L., Lepri, G. L., Scarpa, M. L., and Patrizi, P. (2022). Use of restorative justice and restorative practices at school: A systematic literature review. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19(1), 96. DOI: icon

Augustine, C., Engberg, J., Grimm, G., Lee, E., Wang, E.L., Christianson, K., and Joseph, A. (2018). Can Restorative Practices Improve School Climate and Curb Suspensions? An Evaluation of the Impact of Restorative Practices in a Mid-Sized Urban School District. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation. DOI:

Compulsory education laws

Summary: Compulsory education laws require children to attend school until they reach a certain age. State laws vary regarding the minimum age for students to leave school. Studies using quasi-experimental approaches to compare crime rates across locations with varying policies find that a higher minimum age for a student to leave school (from 16 to 18 years old) is associated with lower rates of youth community crime and violence. For example, one study found that compulsory education is associated with a 23% lower violent crime arrest rate for males in this age group. Some evidence suggests that raising the minimum age to leave school may have an even greater effect on crime in communities with larger proportions of Black or African American residents. Other evidence suggests that a higher minimum dropout age may increase some school-related risks of victimization among females and younger students. Overall, it is important to consider the supports that are available to older adolescents and younger students in school to reduce the potential for victimization and promote positive behavior and academic success (e.g., restorative justice, skills training).

Lead Sectors: Government, Education

Anderson, D. M. (2014). In school and out of trouble? The minimum dropout age and juvenile crime. The Review of Economics and Statistics, 96(2), 318–331. DOI: icon

Anderson, D. M., Hansen, B., and Walker, M. B. (2013). The minimum dropout age and student victimization. Economics of Education Review, 35(2), 66-74. icon

Forhad, M.A.R. (2021). Minimum dropout age and juvenile crime in the USA). Eastern Economics Journal, 47, 378–405. DOI: icon

Chicago Safe Passage

Summary: Chicago Safe Passage provides students safe routes to and from school by placing highly visible community members along these routes to monitor and assist with students’ safe travel. Community members are hired as safe passage workers, also referred to as guards, and their role is to be physically present on routes students usually take to and from school. Safe passage workers are trained on conflict de-escalation strategies and have reporting protocols for violent behavior. Studies using quasi-experimental methods that compare differences in crime before and after implementation indicate that, in addition to benefits for school attendance, the program is associated with significant reductions in overall crime in monitored areas relative to non-monitored areas, including 14% to 18% lower rates of violent crimes.

Lead Sectors: Education, Business, Community Organizations

McMillen, D., Sarmiento-Barbieri, I., and Singh, R. (2019). Do more eyes on the street reduce Crime? Evidence from Chicago’s Safe Passage program. Journal of Urban Economics, 110, 1-25. DOI: icon

Gonzalez, R., and Komisarow, S. (2020). Community monitoring and crime: Evidence from Chicago’s Safe Passage Program. Journal of Public Economics, 191, 104250. DOI: