I think the vast majority of us can agree that youth violence is serious and harmful. There's nothing controversial in that statement, and if we watch the news, read the paper, go to the movies, use social media, or work with youth on a regular basis, it doesn't take long to see youth violence in action. It varies in scale and includes hitting, slapping, and bullying, all of which have the potential to leave larger emotional scars than physical. And then there's the darker side of youth violence like robbery and battery. And if you want to go even darker, add weapons and homicide to the mix.
April 7th-11th marked National Youth Violence Prevention Week, and before the month of April passes us by completely, I'll drive the reality of youth violence home with a few statistics:
- Homicide is the second leading cause of death for youth between 15 and 24 years old (CDC).
- In 2010, over 738,000 people aged 10-24 were treated in emergency rooms due to assault-related injuries (CDC).
- In 2011, 12% of youth in grades 9-12 reported being in a physical fight on school property (CDC).
- In 2011, 20% of youth in grades 9-12 reported being bullied on school property and 16% reported being bullied electronically (CDC).
- Five percent of students reported carrying a weapon on school property during the previous 30 days (IES).
- Eight percent of males carried a weapon on school property, compared to two percent of females (IES).
- Ninth graders more likely to be in a fight at school - 16 percent of 9th-graders, compared with 13 percent of 10th-graders, and 9 percent each of 11th- and 12th-graders reported being in a fight on school property (IES).
- Globally, 250,000 homicides occur among youth 10-29 years of age each year, equating to 41% of the annual total number of homicides (WHO).
- For each young person killed, 20-40 more sustain injuries requiring hospital treatment (WHO).
Thankfully, it's not all bad news:
- In 2011, the serious violent crime offending rate was 6 crimes per 1,000 juveniles ages 12–17, with a total of 154,000 such crimes involving juveniles. This was substantially lower than the 1993 rate of 52 crimes per 1,000 juveniles among the same age group (ChildStats.gov).
- Since 1980, serious violent crime involving juvenile offenders has ranged from 19% of all serious violent crimes in 1982 to 26% in 1993. In 2011, the rate was 10% (ChildStats.gov).
- U.S. law enforcement agencies made roughly 60,000 violent crime arrests involving youth under age 18 in 2012, a 10% decrease from 2011, and a 36% decrease from 2003 (Research Consortium of John Jay College).
- Compared with trends since 1980, the arrest rate for violent youth crime reached a new low every year from 2009 through 2012 (Research Consortium of John Jay College).
These are encouraging stats, for sure, but like with so many things, this is an issue we're all going to have to work together to solve. If you're implementing a youth violence prevention initiative at your school, check out the Students Against Violence Everywhere recommendations, and please share any ideas of your own in our comment section below.
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