WHO reviews fact sheet on Youth Violence

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

Key Messages:

Youth violence includes a range of acts from bullying and physical fighting, to more severe sexual and physical assault to homicide.

Each year, 200 000 homicides occur among youth 10-29 years of age- 43% of the global number.

Homicide is the fourth leading cause of death in people aged 10-29 years, and 83% of these homicides involve male victims.

For each young person killed, many more sustain injuries requiring hospital treatment.

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

In one study, from 3–24% of women report that their first sexual experience was forced.

A study of 40 developing countries showed that an average of 42% of boys and 37% of girls were exposed to bullying.

When it is not fatal, youth violence has a serious, often lifelong, impact on a person’s physical, psychological and social functioning.

Youth violence greatly increases the costs of health, welfare and criminal justice services; reduces productivity; and decreases the value of property.

Risk Factors

a. Within the individual

  • attention deficit, hyperactivity, conduct disorder, or other behavioural disorders
  • involvement in crime
  • early involvement with alcohol, drugs and tobacco
  • low intelligence and educational achievement
  • low commitment to school and school failure
  • unemployment
  • exposure to violence in the family

b. Within close relationships (family, friends, intimate partners and peers)

  • poor monitoring and supervision of children by parents
  • harsh, lax or inconsistent parental disciplinary practices
  • a low level of attachment between parents and children
  • low parental involvement in children’s activities
  • parental substance abuse or criminality
  • parental depression
  • low family income
  • unemployment in the family
  • associating with delinquent peers and/or gang membership

c. Within the community and wider society

  • access to and misuse of alcohol;
  • access to and misuse of firearms;
  • gangs and a local supply of illicit drugs;
  • high income inequality;
  • poverty; and
  • the quality of a country’s governance (its laws and the extent to which they are enforced, as well as policies for education and social protection).


  • life skills and social development programmes designed to help children and adolescents manage anger, resolve conflict, and develop the necessary social skills to solve problems;
  • school-based anti-bullying prevention programmes;
  • programmes that support parents and teach positive parenting skills;
  • preschool programmes that provide children with academic and social skills at an early age;
  • therapeutic approaches for youths at high risk of being involved in violence;
  • reducing access to alcohol;
  • interventions to reduce the harmful use of drugs;
  • restrictive firearm licensing and purchasing policies;
  • community and problem-oriented policing; and
  • interventions to reduce concentrated poverty and to upgrade urban environments.

Useful Links:

Link to the fact sheet:


Link to infographic on youth violence (PDF):



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