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Violence Prevention And Intervention Programs

Violence prevention and intervention efforts for youth have been developed to target different groups and needs. Primary prevention programs are generally population-based, involving youth, peers, teachers, schools, and families, and are designed to promote prosocial behavior. Many of these programs target elementary school-age children. Secondary prevention and treatment programs target youth who are at high risk for exposure to violence or becoming violent. Tertiary intervention targets youth who are already perpetrators or victims. The most promising components of intervention programs appear to target social-cognitive skills such as perspective taking, generating alternative solutions, building peer negotiation skills, avoiding violence, and improving self-esteem. Such programs are generally considered most effective at the primary and secondary prevention levels.

Violence among youth and affecting youth is not an isolated phenomenon. Patterns of violent crime among youth follow larger societal patterns. Although the courts in the late twentieth century and into the new century tended toward punishment of juvenile offenders, research shows that programs favoring rehabilitation are better. For children exposed to multiple risk factors and levels of violence, single types of intervention, such as a school curriculum, are insufficient. Societal approaches to reducing violence must include a broad array of both governmental and private initiatives. Because the use of firearms accounts for a sustained high level of juvenile homicide rates, governmental regulations targeted toward decreasing access to weapons is necessary. And because more and more children are without parent supervision in the after-school hours when children are most likely to be victims of violence, increasing funding for after-school programs is another key factor in reducing violence and its effects on children.


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U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics. Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics, 1998, edited by Kathleen Maguire and Ann L. Pastore. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1999.

Tanya F. Stockhammer

Additional topics

Social Issues ReferenceChild Development Reference - Vol 8Violence - The Incidence Of Violence Affecting Youth, Juvenile Suicide, Child Abuse/domestic Violence, An Ecological Framework For Understanding Violence - Juvenile Homicide, Violence and Gangs, Violence and Drug Use