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Youth Gun Violence and Victimization: Prevention, Intervention, and Control

NCJ Number
Date Published
33 pages
In this brief, one of the goals of the Child Welfare League of American (CWLA), namely the reduction of youth gun violence and victimization, is addressed by examining historical and current data trends, and by examining promising approaches to reducing this type of violence among America’s youth.
Chapter 1 presents research concerning current trends on children and gun violence. Current data shows that in 2000, 3,365 children and teens were killed by gunfire in the United States. Of these, 1,990 were murdered by gunfire, 1,078 committed suicide with a firearm, and 214 died as a result of an accidental shooting. Research regarding the consequences of gun violence indicates that pervasive levels of gun violence experienced during childhood leads to problematic outcomes in adulthood. Gun victimization nearly doubles the chances of developing problem drug use in adulthood and the likelihood of developing posttraumatic stress disorder over the life course. The good news is that youth gun violence seems to be decreasing; overall gun violence and homicide rates declined during the 1990’s. However, unlike other causes of death, firearm fatalities disproportionately affect adolescents and youth. In response to the high costs of youth gun violence, there is a proliferation of gun violence reduction programs in the United States. Chapter 2 of the brief outlines some of these promising strategies. One such program is the Boston Strategy to Reduce Youth Violence, which is a comprehensive program that utilizes multiple and coordinated strategies to address the risk factors associated with gun violence. Other programs outlined in the brief include Operation Ceasefire, the Boston Gun Project, Operation Night Light, neighborhood policing programs, tougher youth offender statutes, and expanded prevention and intervention programs that have been enacted around the country. Such programs have made increasing headway in the fight against youth gun violence, however, the brief notes that much remains to be done. It is noted that the National Rifle Association has sponsored a variety of programs and publications designed to promote the safe handling, use, and storage of firearms and handguns. In conclusion, the CWLA Juvenile Justice Division challenges people across the Nation to actively participate in efforts designed to reduce and eradicate youth gun violence and victimization. 21 Endnotes