The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released two online guides for individuals looking to be part of a youth violence solution entitled, Preventing Youth Violence: Opportunities for Action and Taking Action to Prevent Youth Violence. The CDC defines youth violence as any use of physical force by someone aged 10-24 designed to harm someone else of a similar age, and cites youth violence as a leading problem threatening the sanctity and stability of entire communities. Homicide is listed as the third greatest cause of youth death, with homicide claiming the lives of approximately 13 young people per day. What these guides offer, are opportunities and instructions for any and all citizens and community members looking to combat this growing threat.
As the title suggests, Preventing Youth Violence, focuses on the importance of prevention over response. In other words, the CDC identifies an important step in ending youth violence to be preventing violence before it occurs, rather than responding in its aftermath. This means identifying common risk factors such as alcohol and drug use, gang activity, academic disinterest, etc. and curbing these behaviors as a means of ultimately curbing the violence they produce. Additionally, the CDC looks to implement prevention activities more broadly, across communities and environments for a higher and more sustained success rate.
According to Preventing Youth Violence, there are 9 Key Prevention Strategies:
- Build children’s and adolescents’ skills and competencies to choose nonviolent, safe behaviors.
- Foster safe, stable, nurturing relationships between young people and their parents and caregivers.
- Build and maintain positive relationships between young people and caring adults in their community.
- Develop and implement school-wide activities and policies to foster social connectedness and a positive environment.
- Improve and sustain a safe physical environment in communities and create spaces to strengthen social relationships.
- Build viable and stable communities by promoting economic opportunities and growth.
- Facilitate the social cohesion and collective efficacy of the community.
- Change societal norms about the acceptability of violence and willingness to intervene.
- Change the social and structural conditions that affect youth violence and lead to health inequity.
Cure Violence, is cited as a successful example of Street Outreach and Community Mobilization.
Cure Violence is listed as one of many organizations that community members can look to be a part of in order to decrease the youth violence problem in their neighborhoods. Additionally, community members can be part of a solution by tutoring or volunteering at local schools, offering job opportunities for local youth, providing praise and encouragement to youth making positive changes, and a variety of other actions and strategies found in Taking Action to Prevent Youth Violence.
The most important message of the CDC’s new Preventing Youth Violence guides is that any individual, no matter their age or profession, can get involved in youth violence prevention and make meaningful change. The problem of youth violence is devastating and ever-growing, but the list of prevention strategies is straightforward and anyone can be part of the solution.