Youth Violence in Numbers: Where It Resides

Violence affects every community, but some youth may be more at risk based on where they live. In this continuing series, Youth Violence in Numbers, this article examines the data presented by David-Fernon and Simon’s Preventing Youth Violence: Opportunities for Action and the National Gang Center’s National Youth Gang Survey Analysis.

The first example of this occurs when comparing urban and rural areas. Law enforcement data from 2012 showed that crime rates were disproportionately higher in cities (469 per 100,000) versus in metropolitan counties (259 per 100,000) or suburban area (252 per 100,000).

Additionally, the presence of gangs is also higher in cities. The National Youth Gang Survey found that 85% of large cities, 50% of suburban counties, 30% of smaller cities, and 14% of rural counties reported the presence of gangs.natgangcenterDespite there often times being more violence in cities, it can greatly vary across neighborhoods inside those cities.

For instance, if from an early age youth are exposed to crime and family violence, they are most likely to see gang behavior as “acceptable”. Therefore, in the future, it more likely that they will participate in these behaviors. There are also differing types of youth violence in certain areas versus others. In Maine, only 17% of high school students reported being involved in a physical fight, while the national average was 25%. On the other hand, 24% of students reported being bullied, while the national average was only 20%.

This data can be used in very important ways by in order to prevent violence. In the case of school districts, they could examine schools in areas experiencing economic downfalls and implement a greater number of prevention projects  versus schools in higher-income areas.

David-Ferdon C, Simon T.R. Preventing Youth Violence: Opportunities for Action. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2014.

National youth gang survey analysis. National Gang Center.

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