Youth violence in America is literally killing our youth. While the media covers horrific mass shootings like Sandy Hook, rarely do we hear that in America on average 13 youth die each day from violence. And somehow we expect youth to develop into happy and healthy adults?
Among the numerous challenges our youth face, there are two that continuously strike me. The first is the growing number of homeless youth and the second is the violent communities our young people are expected to live in. In my opinion, both are at epidemic levels.
Thankfully, we are reaching a point where the growth in homeless youth is at least flattening in some communities. This is because of increasing community awareness and support. However, daily youth violence in America remains simply mind blowing.
Consider some of the facts about youth violence in America.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control show:
- Youth violence is the 3rd leading cause of death for young people between the ages of 15 and 24.
- Over 599,000 young people between 10 and 24 years of age had physical assault injuries treated in U.S. emergency departments—an average of 1,642 each day.
In a 2013 nationwide survey of high school students conducted by the Centers for Disease Control, approximately:
- 25% of students reported being in a physical fight in the 12 months before the survey.
- 18% of students reported taking a weapon to school in the 30 days before the survey.
- 6% of students reported being bullied on school property and 15% reported being bullied electronically.
If the loss of lives and potential does not appall you, there are also the financial costs. Each year medical and lost work costs associated with homicides and physical assaults among youth is estimated at more than $17 billion. This does not include criminal justice system related costs.
Everyone should be upset that our young people are growing up in a society with so much violence. If you work with youth, you need to step up and do whatever you can to stop this epidemic of youth violence; it has become a matter of life and death.
Here is what you can do to help reduce the youth violence:
- Youth are senselessly dying because of inadequate funding for Youth Intervention. Send an email to all your elected officials and let them know you support programs that will help curb the violence. Let them know the cost in terms of lost lives and potential, as well as the financial impact.
- Learn how to identify the risk factors and behaviors that evolve into youth violence. Watch YIPA’s On-Demand training Lost Boys and Girls led by Dr. James Garbarino who is a national expert. The training will not disappoint you. Do it now, because its availability is time limited.
- Become more knowledgeable about youth violence. Did you know that physical aggression is universal in infants with no difference between males and females? One resource is YIPA’s virtual training on Youth Violence with Dr. James Garbarino.
A lot of issues that our youth are facing today need immediate attention. But youth violence is an issue that demonstrates more than any other issue the need to reform the way society looks at our youth. We all fail when our youth fail… no way around it.
Paul Meunier is the Executive Director of the Youth Intervention Programs Association (YIPA)