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CDC Report: New Tactics Needed to Prevent Youth Violence

Update Date: Jul 17, 2012 11:23 AM EDT

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Expert Panel on Protective Factors for Youth Violence is now calling for new research to find ways to approach and prevent youth violence.

The panel said that while vast research has been done to understand the risk factors that increase youth violence, there has been little research done to identify the protective factors that would reduce the likelihood that violence will happen. They say the studies should guide the development of prevention strategies to reduce or eliminate risk factors, and add or enhance protective factors.

The panel's findings are published in a supplement to the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Jeff Hall, guest editor and behavioral scientist in the Division of Violence Prevention, said the new research could be groundbreaking.

"We can prevent youth violence and have specific ways to address the current challenges that youth violence creates," Hall said. "Our hope is this work will inform the ability of prevention efforts to reduce risk and enhance strengths within youth, their peer groups, families, schools, and communities to prevent violence."

More than 700,000 young people ages 10 to 24 were treated in emergency departments in 2010 for injuries sustained due to violence and homicide is the second leading cause of death for youth ages 15-24, and the leading cause of death for African American youth.

According to the panel, protective factors can potentially work by directly reducing the likelihood of violence or by buffering against other risk factors. They also say that the influence of protective factors and the form of their relationship with violence perpetration may vary across settings, forms of violence and by age.

Youth violence is a complex problem that is influenced by a range of modifiable risk and protective factors. High-quality partnerships among community collaborators, practitioners, and prevention researchers are necessary to understand local needs, select effective prevention strategies, and effectively implement and sustain those strategies.

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