Banner: Violence Prevention in partnership with the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention

Other Youth Topics

Understanding the Problem

Understanding the Problem

Youth and gang violence are challenges of national importance.

  • Homicide is the second leading cause of death of young people, with an average of 16 youth murdered every day (CDC, 2011).
  • The problem is especially severe among African American and Hispanic youth. For African Americans between the ages of 10 and 24, homicide is the leading cause of death, resulting in more deaths than the next four leading causes of death combined. Homicide is the second leading cause of death for Hispanics between the ages of 10 and 24, resulting in more deaths than the next four leading causes of deaths combined (CDC, 2011).
  • Rates of firearm homicide among 10-19 year-olds exceed the all-age rates in 80% of the United States’ largest metropolitan areas (CDC, 2011).
  • Homicides among young people had a total combined medical and work loss cost of $7.7 billion in 2005, with nonfatal injuries due to physical assaults contributing another $6.4 billion (CDC, 2007).

Youth and gang violence are problems that affect communities—urban, suburban, and rural—across the entire United States. Young people can be perpetrators, victims, or witnesses to violence. Some violent acts, such as bullying, can cause as much emotional harm as physical harm. Other acts, such as assault, with or without weapons, can lead to death or serious injury that may result in life-long impairment.

Youth and gang violence are more than just public safety issues.

Beyond public safety, youth violence negatively affects our nation’s communities on multiple levels, including business viability and economic prosperity. Violence increases health care costs, decreases property values, disrupts social services, and perpetuates the cycle of poverty as education and employment prospects decline. Both individuals and the community are affected: kids are afraid to go to school, residents avoid public activities, and businesses close. On the other hand, the benefits of preventing youth violence can be strong and long lasting. We can gain a generation of promise as thousands of youth reach their potential to become productive contributors to their families, communities, and the economy.