Youth violence is a significant problem that affects thousands of young people each day, and in turn, their families, schools, and communities.1 Youth violence and crime affect a community's economic health, as well as individuals' physical and mental health and well-being. Homicide is the third leading cause of death for youth in the United States.2 In 2016, more than 530,000 young people ages 10-24 were treated in emergency departments for injuries sustained from violence.3
Youth violence typically involves young people hurting other peers. It can take different forms. Examples include fights, 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 preventable. To prevent and eliminate violence and improve youth well-being, communities should employ evidence-based, comprehensive approaches that address the multiple factors that impact violence, both factors that increase risk of violence and factors that buffer against risk and promote positive youth development and well-being.
Prevention, intervention, and treatment strategies that are trauma-informed are key. Many youth have experienced traumatic events, including physical, sexual, and emotional abuse; family and community violence; natural disasters; and the ongoing, cumulative impact of poverty, racism, and oppression. Repeated exposure to traumatic events increases the risk of youth violence. Organizational trauma-informed care that is grounded in an understanding of the causes and consequences of trauma can promote resilience and healing, while reducing youth violence.
Prevention cannot be accomplished by one sector alone. Justice, public health, education, health care (mental, behavioral, medical), government (local, state, and federal), social services, business, housing, media, and organizations that comprise the civil society sector, such as faith-based organizations, youth-serving organizations, foundations, and other non-governmental organizations all need to play a role. In addition, the voices of children, youth, and families who are most affected by violence must be front and center. Collectively, we can prevent and eliminate violence and improve well-being.
SAMHSA’s Concept of Trauma and Guidance for a Trauma-Informed Approach (PDF, 27 pages)
The purpose of this publication, developed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, is to develop a working concept of trauma and a trauma-informed approach, and to develop a shared understanding of these concepts that would be acceptable and appropriate across an array of service systems and stakeholder groups. This framework is for the behavioral health specialty sectors, but can be adapted to other sectors such as child welfare, education, criminal and juvenile justice, primary health care, and the military.
SAMHSA-HRSA Center for Integrated Health Solutions
This webpage, focused on trauma and trauma-informed approaches, is geared towards health, behavioral health and integrated care leadership, staff, and patients/consumers. The information and resources provided can be easily adapted to other groups and settings such as schools.
Shared Framework for Reducing Youth Violence and Promoting Well Being (PDF, 15 pages)
The Shared Framework draws upon previously developed frameworks and models and incorporates the research and programmatic evidence base that the federal, state, and local partners have built over three decades across multiple disciplines. This includes key elements of current and past initiatives—the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention, Defending Childhood, and the Community-based Violence Prevention program—and other federal youth violence work of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Administration for Children and Families, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
VetoViolence is CDC’s online source of free violence prevention trainings, tools, and resources.
Violence Reduction Response Center
This VRCC resource from the Bureau of Justice Assistance provides free, timely, direct access to expert staff who can connect users to the most relevant violent crime reduction training and technical assistance. Violence reduction professionals, law enforcement agencies, victims’ groups, and other practitioners in the field can use the VRRC as a one-stop shop to connect to resources that fit their unique needs.
1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2018a
2 CDC, 2018b
2 CDC, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, 2018