Why do young people need special attention to prevent violence?

Violence among young people occurs between individuals in the streets and in institutions such as schools, residential facilities and in the workplace and society notices it more than other forms of violence.

The mass media and society are quick to demonize violent young people, but this report argues that youth is a period of vulnerability and that the root causes of violence such as abuse and neglect suffered in childhood need to be considered.

Childhood and adolescence are periods of cognitive and behavioral changes, and exposure to adversity in the form of neglect, conflict or violence may result in mental trauma, atypical development and likely to be associated with aggressive behaviors, violence and other health-damaging behaviors. Preventing such adversity and implementing comprehensive intervention programs in adolescence and early adulthood can help to integrate young people into the mainstream socially fitting and acceptable safe societal structures (J Can Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2010)

The links between early childhood adversity and later perpetration or vulnerability to victimization need to be considered in developing a life-course approach to prevention, early detection and internvetions
(Etherington, Nicole A. & Baker, Linda L. (2016).

What are the risk and protective factors?

Numerous biological, social, cultural, economic and environmental factors interact to increase young people’s risk of being involved in violence and knife-related crime. Being a victim of child maltreatment and suffering adverse experiences in childhood increase the risk of being involved in both violence among young people and weapon-carrying in adolescence.

Young males have a significantly increased risk of involvement in violence as victims and perpetrators and of using weapons. Exposure to other forms of violence and fear of violence in schools and the community also increases young people’s risks. Associating with violent or delinquent peers is another key risk factor for violence.

There are strong relationships between using alcohol and drugs and being involved in violence and weapon-carrying, and having weapons freely available in the community enhances these risks. Community disorganization, low levels of neighborhood resources and low social capital can be important contributors to violence among young people. Income and social inequality are also strong risk factors for violence because of low social trust and resources. Social and cultural norms that tolerate violence, for example by endorsing violence as a normal method of resolving conflict or for punishing a child, can support and reinforce violence in society.

Protective factors can prevent violence from developing among young people. These include good social skills, self-esteem, academic achievement, strong bonds with parents, positive peer groups, good attachment to school, community involvement and access to social support. Reducing risk factors and strengthening protective factors can prevent violence and weapon-carrying among young people.

Strengthening the knowledge base of risk factors using a life-course approach in the European Region should therefore be a key priority to better identify interventions for prevention.

Culturally tested and actively followed ways and means to engage the youth have been claimed to make an impact on the prevention (Mick Brown telegraph feb 2011) reflecting on his observations made during a visit to the Jewish settlement in North London , Stamford Hill.
'People in this community have lots of children, and they’re always busy. 24 hours a day. They’re going to the synagogue, going to study, to work, to see their family, back to the synagogue, social events in the evening. It’s very full life.’