Prevention of youth-related violence

Prevenció violència juvenilThe World Health Organisation has published a manual about the prevention of youth-related violence. First of all, the report informs of the extent of the problem. Annually about 200,000 homicides are believed to be committed involving victims between 10 and 29, a figure which accounts for the fourth cause of death affecting this age group. 83% of these victims are men and the immense majority of these deaths take place in countries with a low or average standard of living.

Four out of every ten young people have been involved in some kind of fight over the last year and one out of every four has suffered some kind of assault over the last month. The effects of this violence are often visible (millions are attended every year in hospitals with a range of wounds) and are often invisible (a third of victims of violence never talk about the incident). The young victims of this violence often experience some kind of psychological disorder; a drop in performance at school; addiction to drugs, cigarettes or alcohol; become victims again or behave violently as adults.

The most important risk factors linked to youth-related violence: fights at school, absenteeism from school, anti-social relationships with friends or peers and destructive behaviour. The fact that parents are addicted to drugs or alcohol, are involved in criminal activities or have behavioural problems is also associated with youth-related violence scenarios. Other risk factors involve living in poverty-stricken areas, with a lack of public services and with little respect for norms; lack of family and social support, or involvement in criminal behaviour.

The manual notes the need to address the causes of violence in order to prevent it more effectively. Preventive measures stated include: training programmes aimed at parents to enable them to establish good relationships with their children, support programmes for children with problems to enable them to follow their peers, campaigns and policies to reduce alcohol and drug consumption among the young, urban renewal and decentralisation of poverty, police interventions aimed at solving the underlying problems, therapeutic methods to help young people to channel their anger and behavioural problems, as well as reducing access to firearms. The healthcare sector has an important role in many areas connected to youth-related violence, with the collaboration of other public (and private) agencies.

To apply preventive strategies and actions, it is vital for the magnitude of the problem to be defined appropriately so that accurate statistical data can be gathered to allow for a proper diagnosis of the situation. It is also crucial to elaborate objective indicators which facilitate an assessment of the programmes aimed at the prevention and the reduction of youth-related violence. Otherwise, initiatives and strategies which are totally ineffective may be pursued meaning that problems can become entrenched.

You can consult the whole document: Preventing youth violence: an overview of the evidence

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