About Youth Violence

Key points

  • Youth violence is a serious public health problem.
  • Youth violence can have long-term impacts on health, opportunity, and well-being.

What is youth violence?

Youth violence is the intentional use of physical force or power to threaten or harm others by young people ages 10-24.1

It can include things like fighting, bullying, threats with weapons, and gang-related violence. A young person can be involved with youth violence as a victim, offender, or witness.

Quick facts and stats

Thousands of people experience youth violence every day. Youth violence negatively impacts youth in all communities—urban, suburban, rural, and tribal. The following facts are based on data from the United States.

Youth violence is common. Homicide is the third leading cause of death for young people ages 10-24. It is the leading cause of death for non-Hispanic Black or African American youth.23 Emergency departments treat over 800 young people for physical assault-related injuries each day.2

Some youth are at greater risk than others. Sexual minority teens are more likely to experience multiple forms of violence compared to their heterosexual peers.2 Black or African American youth and young adults are at higher risk for the most physically harmful forms of violence. This includes homicides, fights with injuries, and aggravated assaults.3

Youth violence is costly. In 2020, youth homicides and nonfatal physical assault-related injuries resulted in an estimated $122 billion annually. These costs include medical care, lost work, and quality of life. This estimate does not include costs to the criminal justice system.4

COVID-19 has impacted the economic burden of youth violence. Compared to 2019, the economic burden of youth violence was 17% higher in 2020 ($122 billion vs. $105 billion).4


Youth violence can have serious and lasting effects on young people’s physical, mental, and social health.1 It can harm development and contribute to impaired decision-making and learning challenges. It can also contribute to decreased connections to peers and adults, and trouble coping with stress.2

Youth violence is linked to negative health and well-being outcomes and disproportionately impacts communities of color.2 Violence increases the risk for behavioral and mental health difficulties. These can include future violence perpetration and victimization. Other outcomes include smoking, substance use, obesity, high-risk sexual behavior, depression, academic difficulties, school dropout, and suicide.12

Violence increases health care costs, decreases property value, negatively impacts school attendance, and decreases access to community support services. Addressing the short- and long-term consequences of violence strains community resources. As a result, this limits the resources that states and communities can use to address other needs.1


We can protect youth and support their growth into healthy adults. Certain factors may increase or decrease the risk of youth experiencing or perpetrating violence.

Preventing youth violence requires understanding and addressing the factors that put people at risk for or protect them from violence.

Long-standing systemic health and social inequities have put many people from racial and ethnic minority groups at increased risk of violence. It is important for prevention efforts to consider societal conditions disproportionately experienced by Black or African American youth and young adults. This includes conditions like concentrated poverty and residential segregation. It also includes other forms of racism that limit opportunities to grow up in healthy, violence-free environments. Addressing the root causes of violence is critical to reducing high rates of violence in communities of color.3

  1. David-Ferdon, C., Vivolo-Kantor, A. M., Dahlberg, L. L., Marshall, K. J., Rainford, N. & Hall, J. E. (2016). Youth Violence Prevention Resource for Action: A Compilation of the Best Available Evidence. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Note: The title of this document was changed in July 2023 to align with other Prevention Resources being developed by CDC's Injury Center. The document was previously cited as "A Comprehensive Technical Package for the Prevention of Youth Violence and Associated Risk Behaviors."
  2. David-Ferdon C, Clayton HB, Dahlberg LL, et al. Vital Signs: Prevalence of Multiple Forms of Violence and Increased Health Risk Behaviors and Conditions Among Youths — United States, 2019. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2021;70:167–173. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm7005a4
  3. Sheats KJ, Irving SM, Mercy JA, Simon TR, Crosby AE, Ford DC. Merrick MT, Annor FB, Morgan RE. (2018). Violence-Related Disparities Experienced by Black Youth and Young Adults: Opportunities for Prevention, American Journal of Preventive Medicine; 55(4): 462-469, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2018.05.017
  4. Peterson C, Parker EM, D'Inverno AS, Haileyesus T. Economic Burden of US Youth Violence Injuries. JAMA Pediatr. Published online September 18, 2023. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2023.3235.