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Youth Violence

WHO Global Campaign for Violence Prevention
  • Youth violence is a form of interpersonal violence that involves individuals between the ages of 10 and 29 years.

  • The type of aggression seen in youth violence can range from bullying and physical fighting to assault and homicide [1].

  • The rates of youth violence by country vary around the world, with high rates seen particularly in Africa and Latin America.

  • Other than the United States, most countries with youth homicide rates above 10 per 100 000 are either developing countries or countries involved in social or economic change [1].

  • Around the world, the victims and perpetrators of violence are predominantly male.

  • For every young person killed, 20 to 40 sustain injuries requiring hospital treatment.

  • The poster at the right is from the WHO Global Campaign for Violence Prevention ", a "campaign to raise awareness about the problem of violence, highlight the crucial role that public health can play in addressing its causes and consequences and encourage action at every level of society."

    The text on the poster reads:

    "More than 540 adolescents and young adults die every day as a result of interpersonal violence: more than 20 deaths each hour."

How do gangs fit in?

  • Youth violence is sometimes, but not always, linked with gangs.

    Gangs are defined as groups of individuals that share a group identity and are involved in criminal behaviour.

  • Gang involvement is more common in the United States than in Canada.

  • In the US, approximately 12% of youths are involved in gangs and 94% of gang members are males [2].

  • While black males are frequently associated with gang activities [3], research shows that latino gangs in the US comprise 47% of youth gang activity, blacks 31%, and white gangs 13%.

  • Asian gangs have an increasing profile in the US [2].


1. WHO (2002). World report on violence and health: summary. Geneva, World Health Organization.

2. Falk, M. (2005). Gang Violence. Toronto, Ontario.

3. Bernstein, E.B.a.J. (1996). Case Studies in Emergency Medicine and the Health of the Public. Sudbury, Massachusetts. Jones and Bartlett Publishers.

All references for this section