Preventing Youth Violence

What is youth violence?
teens horsey back ride

Youth violence is a serious public health problem and an adverse childhood experience (ACE) that can have long-term impact on health and wellbeing. Youth Violence is the intentional use of physical force or power to threaten or harm others by young people ages 10-24. It typically involves young people hurting peers who are unrelated to them and who they may or may not know well. Youth violence can include fighting, bullying, threats with weapons, and gang-related violence. A young person can be involved with youth violence as a victim, offender, or witness.

Youth violence is connected to other forms of violence. Different forms of violence have common risk and protective factors, and victims of one form of violence are more likely to experience other forms of violence. Many risk factors for youth violence are linked to toxic stress from experiencing ACEs. Toxic stress (extended or prolonged stress), can negatively change the brain development of children and youth.

How big is the problem?

Thousands of people experience youth violence every day. While the extent and types of youth violence vary across communities and demographic groups, youth violence negatively impacts youth in all communities—urban, suburban, rural, and tribal.

Youth violence is common. Nearly 1 in 5 high school students reported being bullied on school property in the last year, and about 1 in 7 were electronically bullied (texting, Instagram, Facebook, or other social media).

Youth violence kills and injures. Homicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for young people ages 10-24. Each day, about 13 young people are victims of homicide and about 1,100 are treated in emergency departments for nonfatal assault-related injuries.

Youth violence is costly. Youth homicides and nonfatal physical assault-related injuries result in more than $20 billion annually in combined medical and lost productivity costs alone, not including costs associated with the criminal justice system, psychological and social consequences for victims, perpetrators and their families, or costs incurred by communities.

1 in 5 high school students, about 13 young people, estimated cost of YV

See Youth Violence Resources for articles, publications, and data sources for youth violence. 

What are the consequences?

Youth violence has serious and lasting effects on the physical, mental, and social health of young people. It is a leading cause of death for young people and results in more than 400,000 nonfatal injuries each year. The impact of youth violence goes beyond physical consequences. Adverse childhood experiences, like youth violence, are associated with negative health and well-being outcomes across the life course. Youth violence increases the risk for behavioral and mental health difficulties, including future violence perpetration and victimization, smoking, substance use, obesity, high-risk sexual behavior, depression, academic difficulties, school dropout, and suicide.

Youth violence affects entire communities. Violence increases health care costs, decreases property value, and disrupts social services. Youth violence negatively impacts perceived and actual safety, participation in community events, school attendance, and viability of businesses. Addressing the short- and long-term consequences of violence strains community resources and limits the resources that states and communities have to address other needs.

See Youth Violence Resources for articles, publications, and data sources for the consequences of youth violence. 

How can we stop youth violence before it starts?

The good news is youth violence is preventable. CDC’s technical package,  A Comprehensive Technical Package for the Prevention of Youth Violence and Associated Risk Behaviors pdf icon[4.09 MB, 64 Pages, 508], helps communities and states prioritize prevention strategies based on the best available evidence.  Also available in Spanish pdf icon[3.89 MB, 68 Pages, 508].

The strategies and approaches in the technical package are intended to shape individual behaviors as well as relationship, community, and societal factors, that influence risk and protective factors for violence. The strategies are meant to be used in combination and across sectors to prevent youth violence before it starts.

How can we prevent child abuse and neglect?

  1.  David-Ferdon C, Vivolo-Kantor AM, Dahlberg LL, Marshall KJ, Rainford N, Hall JE. A Comprehensive Technical Package for the Prevention of Youth Violence and Associated Risk Behaviors. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016. Available from https://
  2. Kann L, McManus T, Harris WA, et al. (2018). Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance—United States, 2017. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report–Surveillance Summaries; 67(SS-08):1-479. Available from https:// pdf/2017/ss6708.pdf.
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) [online] 2018; [cited 2020 Feb 27] Available from
Page last reviewed: April 7, 2020