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Youth Violence Prevention

Law enforcement and police agencies are expected to protect and serve the public, regardless of ethnicity, religion, gender or age. Many times, violent or criminal acts are perpetrated between adults, but with the recent spotlight on youth violence and prevention, law enforcement and other organizations have implemented youth violence prevention programs within schools and communities in order to prevent crimes committed by those who may not be old enough to truly understand the consequences of their actions.

In the past decade, violent crimes committed by individuals between the ages of 12-18 have dropped dramatically, according to the National Crime Victimization Survey. This report includes information on non-violent crimes such as verbal abuse, bullying, hitting, slapping, or fist fighting as well as aggravated assault, robbery, rape, and homicide committed by and against youth. This decline in youth violence is attributed to declining gang violence, successful community law enforcement efforts, as well as various school and community-based programs to prevent violence. However, youth violence is still considered the second leading cause of death for young people between the ages of 10 and 24. Youth violence is an indication of the health of a community, and, in turn, may affect the community’s health by increasing health care costs, decreasing property values, and disrupting social services. Plus, youth violence directly and indirectly affects the mental health of those within these at-risk schools or communities.

Specific youth violence prevention programs that focus exclusively on issues like date rape and sexual assault or bullying are rapidly being integrated within academic curriculum in many schools, helping lower the overall rates of those crimes being committed, as well as their specific crime rates. Gang, alcohol and drug education programs, as well as workshops and seminars that link domestic violence and abuse to youth crime are also contributing to the lower crime rates. Law enforcement agencies and police officers are helping to take a proactive role in youth violence prevention by participating in these programs and even offering mentoring services, in many cases.

As more risk factors for youth violence are identified and used to help educate and lower its occurrence, the facts still show that youth violence is a national problem. Through educating children in schools and community organizations, as well as educating teachers, law enforcement, police officers and community organizers, the prevention of youth violence can becomes a natural part of the process of reducing violent and non-violent crime rates, regardless of the age of the perpetrator.

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