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Youth Violence: CDC Activities

Preventing Youth Violence: Program Activities Guide

 National Violent Death Reporting System
To better depict the scope and nature of violence 

Extramural Violence-Related Injury Prevention Research
Abstracts of research projects in violence-related injury prevention

More Injury Programs and Projects

As with other public health problems, CDC addresses youth violence using a systematic process called the public health approach. This approach has four steps: define the problem, identify risk and protective factors, develop and test prevention strategies, and assure widespread adoption of prevention principles and strategies. To learn more about this approach, see the CDC Injury Fact Book. This section provides information on CDC activities that fall under each of these steps.

Step 1: Define the Problem

Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System
CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) is designed to monitor priority health risk behaviors that contribute to the leading causes of death, disability, and social problems of people in the United States, including behaviors that contribute to unintentional injuries and violence. The YRBSS comprises national, state, and local school-based surveys of representative 9th through
12th grade students. The school-based surveys are conducted biennially and provide information on a variety of suicide and interpersonal violence-related behaviors overall and on school property. YRBSS information can be found online at

National Electronic Injury Surveillance System–All Injury Program
The National Electronic Injury Surveillance System–All Injury Program (NEISS–AIP) is operated by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in collaboration with CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. NEISS–AIP provides nationally representative data about all types and causes of nonfatal injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments. CDC uses NEISS-AIP data to generate national estimates of nonfatal injuries, including those related to youth violence.

National Violent Death Reporting System
State and local agencies already have detailed information from police, crime labs, coroners, medical examiners, and death certificates that could answer questions about trends and patterns of violent deaths. The information, however, is fragmented and difficult to access. CDC has funded 17 states and established a National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) to gather, share, and link state-level data on violent deaths. NVDRS enables CDC and states to access vital, state-level information to gain a more accurate understanding of violent deaths. This will enable policy makers and community leaders to make informed decisions about violence prevention strategies and programs, including those that address youth violence. For more information, please see the
NVDRS fact sheet.

WISQARSTM (Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System, pronounced "whiskers") is an interactive database that provides national injury-related morbidity and mortality data useful for research and for making informed public health decisions. To access WISQARS, visit

Healthy Passages
Healthy Passages is a multiyear longitudinal study to help families, schools, communities, and health care providers understand how children grow to be healthy, educated, and productive members of society. The study will help explain why young people choose healthy or risky behaviors. Data collection began in fall 2004 and will provide information on many injury and violence issues, including individual and family factors associated with bullying and how behaviors change over time. More information is available at

School-Associated Violent Deaths Study
In partnership with Departments of Education and Justice, CDC has conducted a national study of school-associated violent deaths since 1992. This ongoing study plays an important role in monitoring trends in lethal school violence, identifying risk factors, and assessing the effects of prevention efforts.

School Health Policies and Programs Study
The School Health Policies and Programs Study (SHPPS) is a national survey conducted periodically to assess school health policies and programs at the state, district, school, and classroom levels. SHPPS was first conducted in 1994 and was repeated in 2000. The survey will be conducted again in 2006. SHPPS provides information on health education, programs, environmental strategies, and policies that schools, districts, and states use to address violence and suicide prevention. More information is available at

Step 2: Identify Risk and Protective Factors

Assessment Tool for School Environments
CDC is supporting the development of a tool to assess the physical characteristics of schools that can contribute to feelings of safety, increase prosocial behavior, and decrease aggressive behavior. The tool uses the Crime Prevention through Environment Design (CPTED) framework. CPTED’s core principles include reducing opportunities for crime, enhancing natural surveillance of activities, and reinforcing a sense that the environment is cared for and that problems will be addressed.

Assessing Links among Various Forms of Violence
CDC is conducting a study to identify the links between different forms of violent behaviors among adolescents. The study will enhance the understanding of the prevalence and consequences of aggressive behaviors; the association between dating violence, other peer violence, and suicidal behaviors; and the way in which violent behaviors vary by sex, developmental stage, and other factors.

Examining Sociocultural and Community Risk and Protective Factors
CDC is funding the University of Georgia to study the sociocultural and community risk and protective factors associated with youth violence. Most research on community and cultural risk factors has been limited to residential neighborhoods. This study will expand the context to include schools, homes of friends, and other places where youth gather. Results from this research will inform the development of violence prevention strategies for communities.

Exploring Exposure to Media Violence
Internet Solutions for Kids and the University of Michigan are being funded by CDC to examine the association between exposure to violent media, particularly new media such as the Internet and video games, and youth violence. Researchers are assessing specific aspects of media that are likely to contribute to risk for violence and are identifying factors that mediate or moderate the association between violent media and violent behavior. Internet Solutions for Kids is conducting a Web-based survey of adolescents ages 10 to 15 to assess the relationship between exposure to violence on the Internet and aggressive behavior. The University of Michigan is working with delinquent and criminal youth populations and at-risk youth to explore the effects of exposure to media violence on violent and aggressive behavior.

Youth Employment and Youth Violence
The University of North Carolina is being funded to explore the potential of youth employment to reduce youth violence. Researchers will use data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health to examine the relationship between employment during adolescence and violence-related behaviors.

Child Violence, Adult Victimization, Injury, and Health
The Medical University of South Carolina is being funded by CDC to research the effects of violent assault histories and adverse family environments on leading health indicators such as violence-related injury, suicidal behavior, tobacco use, substance abuse, mental health problems, and risky sexual behavior.

Violence Toward Peers, Dates, and Self
CDC is funding researchers at the University of North Carolina to study the interrelationships among peer-, date-, and self-directed violence to identify risk factors from four levels of influence: individual, peer, family, and neighborhood. The project is providing information about the onset of violence and patterns of escalation and deceleration; determining the developmental pathways for each type of violence; and examining changes in risk factors over time.

Study of Sibling Violence among Foster Children
Researchers from the New York University School of Medicine are being funded by CDC to assess 260 African American and Latino siblings in foster care. These groups are at high risk for psychological problems, disruptions in school competence, and perpetration of sibling violence because of their exposure to family violence. Identification of modifiable risk and protective factors in the social ecology of foster care is a crucial first step in preventing sibling violence among foster children.

Intentional Injury among Urban Youth
CDC is funding Harvard University to study the risk factors and prevalence of intentional injury among urban adolescents. Researchers are using structured interviews with youth and their caregivers to determine the source, frequency, and severity of intentional injury and the impact on their physical, psychological, social, and academic functioning. The project involves 5,000 adolescents residing in 80 Chicago neighborhoods.

Step 3: Develop and Test Prevention Strategies

Social and Character Development Study
The Social and Character Development (SACD) Research Program is a multisite randomized field trial that examines the efficacy of school-based programs designed to increase prosocial behavior, promote positive social and character development, and reduce problem behavior in elementary schoolchildren. The U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES), in collaboration with CDC, initiated the SACD research program in 2003. IES awarded grants to seven research institutions and a contract to Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. to work in partnership with IES and CDC to evaluate and implement seven school-wide social and character development programs. The multisite evaluation tracks the development of a third-grade cohort of children from fall 2004 to spring 2007 in 88 schools across six states.

Middle School Violence Prevention Project
CDC is funding a multisite trial of a violence prevention program for middle school students. Thirty-seven middle schools in four states are participating. The program being evaluated teaches students conflict resolution and problem-solving skills, trains teachers about violence prevention, and engages family members in program activities. The project is affiliated with Duke University, the University of Georgia, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Virginia Commonwealth University. To date, this effort is one of the largest to assess the effectiveness of school-based violence prevention among middle school students.

Youth Empowerment Solutions for Peaceful Communities
CDC is funding the University of Michigan to study Youth Empowerment Solutions for Peaceful Communities (YES) and assess whether interventions designed to change community structures and social processes can reduce rates of youth violence. The YES project provides youth with opportunities to prevent youth violence and create community change; enhances the ability of neighborhood organizations to engage youth; and changes the social and physical environment to reduce and prevent violence. The project includes youth empowerment activities, neighborhood organization development, and community development programs.

The Impact of Housing Relocation Initiatives on Community-Level Youth Violence
CDC is funding a cooperative agreement with Carnegie Mellon University to evaluate the impact of major housing relocation efforts in Pittsburgh, PA, on community levels of youth violence. Analyses will include not only the depopulated high-density public housing communities, but also neighborhoods bordering those communities and the destination neighborhoods of families who left public housing communities. Data from police records, 911 calls, coroner reports, and emergency departments will be collected to determine whether this effort to disaggregate neighborhoods with concentrated poverty can reduce youth violence without increasing violence in surrounding and destination neighborhoods.

The Impact of Business Improvement Districts on Youth Violence
Researchers at the RAND Corporation are receiving funding to evaluate the impact of established business improvement districts (BIDs) in Los Angeles on modifying community-level factors associated with youth violence. BIDs rely on special assessments for commercial properties, which are then used to enhance services such as security, sanitation, marketing, and planning. The study aims to: (1) test whether census tracts with BIDs have lower rates of youth violence than census tracts without BIDs; and (2) test whether the relations between BIDs and youth violence are mediated by improvements in social, physical, or economic characteristics of the communities.

Reducing Violence and Victimization in Assaulted Urban Youth
The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is being funded by CDC to examine the effectiveness of a violence prevention program aimed at reducing aggressive behavior in African-American adolescents who have experienced violent crime. The program combines the best elements of existing cognitive behavioral therapy and behavioral parent training programs. Researchers will assess the impact of the program on aggressive behavior and explore how the symptoms of posttraumatic stress symptoms affect the programs effectiveness.

Media Literacy as a Violence Prevention Strategy
CDC is funding the University of California-Los Angeles to evaluate Beyond Blame: Challenging Violence in the Media, a media literacy violence prevention curriculum. The impact evaluation is assessing changes in beliefs, attitudes, knowledge, and behaviors among study participants. The concurrent process evaluation is examining coverage, integrity, delivery, and use of program intervention. The study will be conducted in randomly selected seventh-grade classrooms throughout Los Angeles County.

Reducing Violence and Gang Involvement among Latinos
George Washington University in Washington DC has been funded to determine if a primary prevention program can positively impact mediating factors and thereby reduce involvement in gangs and the incidence of violence by and among Latino youth. The program is tailored to specific community-level mediating factors for Latino youth violence in the target community of Langley Park, Maryland. Mediating factors include sequential family immigration; family cohesion reliance on peer socialization; a lack of language and culturally appropriate services for immigrant youth who face barriers to successful school performance; low awareness/perception of community support; the presence of Latino gangs; and the integration of violence into prevalent youth norms related to status and reputation. The intervention SAFER Latinos (Seguridad, Apoyo, Familia, Educacion, Y Recursos) involves training of youth peer leaders, youth and family outreach, support activities at a community center, school-based support for Latino youth, dissemination of prevention information, and mobilization of the community. The intervention will be evaluated at baseline; follow-up data will be collected in both the intervention and a control community (Culmore, VA). Data will be collected via a survey and focus groups.

Developmental Pathways of Rural African Americans
CDC is funding the University of North Carolina’s Center for Developmental Science to assess and study the developmental trajectories of rural, African Americans who participated in an early adolescent violence prevention writing program. This multilevel intervention was conducted in two cohorts of adolescents. It consisted of music and photography classes, reading enhancement, parent support, and behavior management.

Promoting Biculturalism to Prevent Youth Violence
Researchers at the University of North Carolina are being funded by CDC to develop and test an intervention that attempts to prevent aggressive behavior and suicide among Latinos. The intervention promotes bicultural coping skills and family cohesion. Among Latino adolescents, research has shown an important link between acculturation stress and serious psychosocial problems such as substance abuse, suicidal ideation for girls, and aggression and violence for boys.

Youth Violence Prevention and Injury Reduction Initiative
CDC is funding the University of Pittsburgh to study whether early identification of at-risk youth and timely referral to community-based programs can reduce the reoccurrence of injury and violent events in the area. The study targets young people ages 14 to 25 who have been admitted to the hospital for treatment of a violence-related injury.

Preventing Youth Violence in Inner-City Neighborhoods
The University of Alabama at Birmingham is being funded to evaluate a violence prevention program in several impoverished neighborhoods in Mobile, Alabama. The program emphasizes early intervention for at-risk youth. Findings will inform the development of new approaches to address violence among inner-city youth.

Step 4: Assure Widespread Adoption

National Academic Centers of Excellence on Youth Violence
CDC has established eight National Academic Centers of Excellence (ACE) on Youth Violence Prevention to serve as models for youth violence prevention. The Centers monitor youth violence, support the development and application of effective youth violence prevention programs, foster collaboration between academic researchers and communities, and mobilize and empower communities to address youth violence. Funded Centers are: Additional information is available on-line (link to  

National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center
The National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center is an online source for information and materials gathered from institutions, community-based organizations, and federal agencies working to prevent violence among our nation’s youth. The Center’s website, toll-free hotline, and fax-on-demand service offer access to information about prevention programs, publications, research and statistics, and fact sheets. Additional information can be found online at

Preventing Violence through Education, Networking, and Technical Assistance (PREVENT)
With funds from CDC, the University of North Carolina is developing a national training program for violence prevention practitioners. PREVENT works with individuals and organizations to build skills in identifying community needs and assets, creating and mobilizing partnerships, developing and implementing prevention programs, measuring success, and funding and sustaining programs.

Enhancing State Capacity to Address Child and Adolescent Health through Violence Prevention (ESCAPe)
CDC’s ESCAPe program is developing capacity and leadership in preventing violence toward or among children or adolescents, including youth suicide, child maltreatment, teen dating, sexual violence, school violence, community violence, and bullying. The planning and implementation phases of this project address the intersection of shared risk and protective factors. Funded states are Colorado, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, Rhode Island, and Virginia.

Urban Networks to Increase Thriving Youth through Violence Prevention (UNITY)
CDC is funding the Prevention Institute in Oakland, CA, to convene a national consortium to develop a framework for the prevention of youth violence in urban areas. Tools, strategies, and messages will be developed to support a national initiative. The Harvard University Youth Violence Prevention Research Center and the Southern California Injury Prevention Research Center are partners in this effort.

Next Steps for CDC’s Youth Violence Research
With extensive input from its academic research centers, national nonprofit organizations, and other federal agencies with a stake in injury prevention, CDC has identified its top research priorities for preventing youth violence:

See additional priorities in the CDC Injury Research Agenda.

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Page last modified: March 12, 2007