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Philadelphia Youth Violence Reduction

Ages 14-19

Rating: Level 3


The Philadelphia Youth Violence Reduction Partnership (YVRP) is a multi-agency effort involving various youth-serving organizations and criminal justice agencies partnering to reduce Philadelphia’s homicide rate and put violent youthful offenders on the path toward a productive majority. Since its establishment in 1999, YVRP has sought to help 14- to 24-year-olds at greatest risk of killing or being killed. Almost all YVRP participants are under court supervision, having contact with a probation or parole officer, and most have been convicted or adjudicated on a violent or drug-related charge at least once.

YVRP not only provides participants with increased supervision but also brings them support through access to critical resources such as employment, mentoring, healthcare, and drug treatment. While most probation departments are short on resources and face extremely heavy caseloads, in YVRP street workers, smaller caseloads, and police partnerships help bridge the gaps. Street workers in consultation with probation officers develop mentoring relationships with the participants and connect them with much needed social support, ranging from mental health counseling to employment assistance. Street workers also help participants’ parents get jobs and find housing and health care, thereby providing participants with more stable family lives.

With smaller caseloads, YVRP probation officers have more time to closely supervise their probationers. Police also accompany probation officers to the homes and hangouts of participants, serving as a reminder that the police support probation and allowing for police contact and interaction outside of the context of enforcement.

YVRP involves more than 10 public and private organizations and a staff of more than 50 police officers, probation officers, and street workers. The staff aim to see participants and their families more than 25 times a month to help connect the young offenders to school, work, or counseling, while ensuring strict enforcement of their probation.


The evaluation relied on monitoring data collected from January 2000 to July 2003. To determine whether YVRP Police Districts experienced change in their levels of violence, evaluators collected the homicide data of the 24th and 25th Police Districts from 1994 to September 2003. The evaluation team analyzed monthly statistics on each participant and the holding of semi-annual interviews with street workers, police, and probation officers. The evaluators followed street workers closely to learn about their relationships with participants and shadowed probation officers to gain insights into their daily activities.


Preliminary analysis of youth homicides in the YVRP Police Districts seems to provide at least initial evidence that the YVRP is indeed helping high-risk youths stay alive. The 10 years of homicide data collected from the Philadelphia Police on the YVRP Police Districts reveals that homicides in the 24th and 25th Police Districts were significantly lower after the start of YVRP. In looking at the raw averages, the 25th District saw a decrease from an average of 5.8 youth homicides per quarter before YVRP to 3.4 after YVRP. In the 24th District, youth homicides declined by an average of 1 per quarter over 4 years. The 25th District also saw a significant reduction in the number of homicides for all ages. There was, however, not a significant decrease in the number of homicides for victims of all ages in the 24th District.

Homicide trends also may support the conclusion that YVRP is having a positive effect in the districts in which it operates. The rate of homicide reduction was greater in the YVRP Police Districts than in the city as a whole. Trends show that 24th District homicides were slowly increasing over time, and during the quarter that YVRP was implemented there was a dramatic decline in homicides. However, following the immediate decrease, homicides have continued to increase at a faster pace than before YVRP. But this rate is significantly lower than the increase citywide.

In the 25th Police District, youth homicides dropped after the inception of YVRP and have continued to drop. This is in stark contrast to the city as a whole, where since the introduction of YVRP there has been a trend toward increased youth homicides. A similar pattern is seen in the trend of homicides of individuals of all ages in the 25th District.

Risk Factors


  • Anti-social behavior and alienation/Delinquent beliefs/General delinquency involvement/Drug dealing
  • Cognitive and neurological deficits/Low intelligence quotient/Hyperactivity
  • Early onset of aggression and/or violence
  • Gun possession/Illegal gun ownership and/or carrying
  • Life stressors
  • Mental disorder/Mental health problem/Conduct disorder
  • Victimization and exposure to violence


  • Broken home
  • Family history of the problem behavior/Parent criminality
  • Family management problems/Poor parental supervision and/or monitoring
  • Family violence
  • Pattern of high family conflict
  • Poor family attachment/Bonding
  • Sibling antisocial behavior


  • Dropping out of school
  • Low academic achievement


  • Availability of alcohol and other drugs
  • Availability of firearms
  • Community crime/High crime neighborhood
  • Neighborhood youth in trouble


  • Association with delinquent and/or aggressive peers
  • Gang involvement/Gang membership
  • Peer alcohol, tobacco, and/or other drug use

Protective Factors


  • Healthy / Conventional beliefs and clear standards
  • Perception of social support from adults and peers
  • Positive expectations / Optimism for the future


  • Having a stable family
  • Opportunities for prosocial family involvement


  • Clear social norms / Policies with sanctions for violations and rewards for compliance
  • Presence and involvement of caring, supportive adults


  • Involvement with positive peer group activities


Fight Crime: Invest in Kids. 2004. Caught in the Crossfire: Arresting Gang Violence by Investing in Kids. Washington, DC.

McClanahan, Wendy S. 2004. Alive at 25: Reducing Youth Violence Through Monitoring and Support. Philadelphia, Pa.: Public/Private Ventures.


Wendy S. McClanahan
Public/Private Ventures
2000 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Phone: (215) 564-0749
Fax: (215) 557-4469
Web site: