Youth violence has been
a problem throughout history, but it has become both more
frequent and more severe over the past decade (Snyder
and other causes of injury represent a serious threat to the
health and safety of urban youth. Homicide now is the second
leading cause of death for 15 to 19 year olds and the leading
cause among African-American youth (source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, see Appendix A for table). For
youth 10 to 14, unintentional injuries is the leading cause of
death, and homicide is the third leading cause.
approaches of law enforcement and juvenile justice are necessary,
but they are not sufficient to control this problem (Reiss
and Roth 1993).
Greater emphasis must be placed on prevention if we want to
reduce the toll of juvenile violence and delinquency. This begs
the question -- what works? Concern about youth violence has
spawned a cottage industry of experts and organizations offering
a bewildering array of programs, services and equipment. It is
often difficult to determine what has and has not been evaluated.
Unfortunately, there is
no "buyers guide" to violence prevention
programs. The summary which follows is an attempt to fill that
gap. First, we attempt to place the problem of youth violence in
perspective. Much of the information cited in this section of the
report was obtained from the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
Second, we divide existing programs into three groups: those that
have been evaluated and found to be effective, those that have so
far yielded disappointing or mixed results, and those that are
promising but have not been adequately evaluated. Our list of
programs is extensive, but it is not exhaustive. New ideas and
initiatives are emerging every day.
To support our
conclusions, we have assembled an extensive bibliography. We also
identify (OJJDP), and can be obtained by calling the
National Program Office. The Guide is a user-friendly and
authoritative work. Part I provides a blueprint for implementing
OJJDPs comprehensive strategy for juvenile offenders. Part
II reviews evaluation research on programs to prevent juvenile
crime and violence. Part III outlines a detailed approach to
graduated sanctions for juvenile offenders, and Part IV presents
a practical approach to risk assessment and classification. Our
review draws heavily from The Guide . We strongly
recommend that you obtain a copy.
Not everyone will agree
with our assessment of the relative value of various violence
prevention strategies. Many of the programs we have identified as
"less effective" have strong advocates. Few have been
sufficiently evaluated to reach a firm and final conclusion about
their usefulness. More evaluation research is needed.
support for generating high-quality evaluation research is weak.
Federal agencies including The Office of Juvenile Justice and
Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), the National Institute of Justice
(NIJ), and the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control
at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are
interested in evaluating promising strategies, but the resources
available to fund evaluations of violence prevention programs are
meager. Many programs are evaluated for insufficient intervals of
time (i.e., only one to three years).
That is why the Robert
Wood Johnson Foundations initiative, Americas
Promise, is so important. Cities involved in this initiative
are being encouraged to take risks, invest in efforts that have a
long-term payoff, and stick with them long enough to learn
whether they succeed or fail. If you are willing to learn from
your failures and share your successes, we will accomplish a
great deal in the next 10 years. The staff and of the National
Program Office and your program consultants are ready to help