WHO updates its fact sheet on Youth Violence (27 October 2015)

The World Health Organization (WHO) has updated its fact sheet on youth violence.

Youth Violence: Violence involving children and young adults aged 10 to 29 years.It includes a range of acts from bullying and physical fighting, to more severe sexual and physical assault to homicide.

Key Messages:

Globally, youth violence is the fourth leading cause of death in young people, causing  200, 000 homicide deaths annually.

83% of the youth homicide victims are males. In all countries, males are also the majority of perpetrators.

For every person killed, many more are injured.

Firearm attacks end more often in fatal injuries than assaults that involve fists, feet, knives, and blunt objects.

Sexual violence affects a large proportion of youth: in a study, 3-24% of women reported that their first sexual experience was forced.

Youth violence has a lasting impact:

  • Mental health problems
  • Poor performance in school
  • Harmful use of tobacco, drugs and alcohol
  • Being a victim of violence as an adult- or committing it

Youth violence is predictable:

Risk factors for youth violence include problems and behaviours such as:

  • Struggling in school
  • Truancy and destructive behaviour
  • Having antisocial peers
  • Abusing alcohol and drugs
  • Behaviour problems
  • Criminal activity

Circumstances such as:

  • Living in an area with concentrated poverty
  • Weak governance and poor rule of law
  • Easy access to alcohol, drugs and guns

Having parents who are:

  • Harsh, inconsistent or disengaged
  • Involved in crime

The greater the number of risk factors, the higher the risk 

Preventing youth violence:

During Early childhood:

  • Parenting programmes to help parents build strong relationships with their children
  • Early childhood development programmes to help disadvantaged children keep up with their peers

During adolescence and young adulthoood:

  • Life and social skills development programmes to help young people build healthy peer relationships
  • Schools-based violence prevention programmes to prevent bullying
  • Therapeutic interventions to help children and teens manage anger and behaviour problems

Society-level prevention strategies:

  • Policies and programmes to reduce alcohol and drug use
  • Reducing access to firearms
  • Urban upgrading and deconcentration of poverty
  • Community- and problem-oriented policing

Useful Links:

Link to the updated fact sheet:


Link to infographic on youth violence (2015) (PDF):


Link to WHO document ‘Preventing youth violence: an overview of the evidence'(2015):


Link to the chapter on youth violence from a World report on violence and health (2009):


Links to evidence on violence prevention:

Guns, knives and pesticides: reducing access to lethal means:


Preventing violence by developing life skills in children and adolescents:


Preventing violence by reducing the availability and harmful use of alcohol:


Changing cultural and social norms that support violence:


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