Prevention initiatives should strive to eliminate variables that put young people at risk of committing violence while also promoting characteristics that safeguard young people at risk of violence. Furthermore, prevention should target all sorts of factors on juvenile violence, including individual, relational, community, and societal influences. Finally, prevention programs should be conducted in conjunction with other interventions for juvenile violence, such as justice system responses.
Below is a list of recommendations made by researchers at the University of New Hampshire's Children's Risk Analysis Center:
1. Ensure safe environments for children to play in. This includes removing guns from homes, reducing street crime, and helping parents create a safe home environment.
2. Provide youth development programs that focus on building positive skillsets such as leadership, decision-making, and conflict resolution.
3. Connect youth to beneficial relationships, such as those with family members or friends who are willing to help them address issues surrounding violence.
4. Help youth develop personal attributes that protect against violence, such as self-control, good judgment, and commitment to social values.
5. Provide effective anger management techniques to prevent retaliatory acts of violence.
6. Identify individuals who may be at risk for violence and provide them with appropriate services and support.
Secondary prevention programs and techniques are undertaken on a limited scale for children at high risk of juvenile violence, with the goal of preventing the onset and lowering the risk of violence. Programs that target high-risk children's families are among the most successful in avoiding violence. Primary prevention programs aim to prevent violence by altering the social environment or individual behavior before violence occurs. There is some evidence that media violence may influence real violence, so educational campaigns aimed at changing viewing habits could have an effect. Community policing programs try to reduce crime by having officers work with residents to identify problems in their neighborhoods and find solutions. This approach has been shown to reduce violence, especially homicides.
Preventing violence requires addressing all forms of violence, not just violent crimes. Violence includes acts such as bullying, sexual harassment, and physical attacks, as well as more passive forms of aggression such as name-calling and social exclusion. Violence also includes mental abuse, which doesn't involve physical injury but can still cause harm to your self-esteem or feelings of personal security. Finally, violence includes neglect, where someone does something likely to cause harm to you, but doesn't actually use physical force. For example, leaving you home alone when you're old enough to be left alone, or failing to take care of your needs because you don't feel safe with them.
All forms of violence should be treated equally important, since no one group of people should face more risks of violence than others.
Social crime prevention examines the factors in our communities that promote criminal behavior. This might include juvenile diversion programs, assistance for at-risk areas, and family intervention programs. It may also include policies such as gun control laws and sentencing guidelines.
These strategies aim to reduce the likelihood of becoming a victim by changing the environment where crimes occur. For example, a community might try to prevent burglaries by installing alarm systems in homes. Or it could limit window peeping by putting up signs warning of surveillance cameras.
Crime prevention strategies focus on the individual as well as their environment. For example, a community might try to reduce car thefts by providing locks for vehicles against theft. This would help individuals by preventing them from being stolen away from their possessions.
Social crime prevention strategies attempt to change both the personal circumstances of victims and offenders as well as the environmental factors within communities. For example, a community might try to reduce robberies by training residents to be aware of their surroundings and to intervene if they see something suspicious. This would help individuals by giving them the ability to protect themselves if faced with an offender.
Social crime prevention strategies include: school discipline programs, drug treatment programs, mental health services, probation supervision, parole supervision, work programs, and jail management practices.
Partnerships between law enforcement, schools, parents, the community, faith-based groups, and kids are among the most effective and long-lasting gang-prevention efforts. "The most successful response to juvenile gangs is a combination of interdependent prevention, intervention, and repression," according to the National Youth Gang Center. Interdependent approaches involve different organizations working together toward shared goals.
For example, law enforcement and school officials can work with parents and students to create anti-gang environments by removing graffiti with nonpermanent paint, teaching self-defense techniques, and providing counseling services. When these measures are combined with education programs that discourage gang involvement, the overall effect can be significant. Between 1994 and 2004, police departments across the United States reported a 40 percent drop in gang activity during times of economic growth. At the same time, more than 100 cities experienced increases in crime rates over this period.
This does not mean that law enforcement is ineffective without partnerships. Rather, it shows that single-issue campaigns that focus on one aspect of the problem (for example, gun control or gang awareness) are unlikely to have much impact. A comprehensive approach that addresses the root causes of violence is needed.
Gang violence has many forms. Some crimes are purely criminal; others are motivated by money; still others are related to drugs or alcohol. No matter why they happen, the best way to prevent gang-related violence is not to allow it to occur in the first place.
Some preventative strategies are aimed at bringing about structural change (e.g., enforcing existing laws, such as those on alcohol or tobacco sales to minors, establishing tolerance policies, enforcing school rules, promoting norm changes, and establishing curfews). For example, local governments can ban smoking in public spaces, such as parks. They can also require cigarette packages to include health warnings and information about the negative effects of smoking.
Other preventative strategies involve encouraging individuals to make healthy choices by providing access to resources they need (e.g., education programs, counseling services, food banks, and health clinics) or by simply engaging with them in appropriate settings (e.g., at their place of work). For example, a community organization could organize "quit parties" at which smokers receive feedback about their habits and are provided with support to quit.
Still other preventative strategies involve informing individuals about risks they don't know they have (e.g., learning their genetic makeup, identifying risk factors for chronic diseases, and receiving regular screenings). For example, doctors can use genetic testing to identify patients at high risk for certain diseases; treatments can be developed based on this knowledge.
Finally, some preventative strategies are purely behavioral. These include avoiding risky situations or people, for example by not drinking alcohol before going out or refusing offers of cigarettes from friends.
Primary crime prevention is to avert the problem before it occurs. This might include things like limiting criminal chances and building community and social infrastructure. Primary prevention is concerned with social and environmental issues. It aims to prevent crime by changing certain aspects of society or the environment, so that the risk of committing a crime is reduced.
Social factors that can influence whether someone commits a crime include: relationships between people (for example, if there are no friends or neighbors to help each other, then there will be less chance that anyone will get help if they do need it); differences in income or status (for example, if everyone is doing well financially, there will be less desire to commit crimes to get money for drugs or equipment for theft); and differences in education or information (for example, if people do not know how to protect themselves from crime, they will be more likely to let down their guards and be victims). Environmental factors that could play a role in preventing crime include the quality of our streets and neighborhoods, the availability of weapons and ammunition, and the state of the economy.
There are two types of primary prevention: proactive and reactive. Proactive primary prevention involves identifying risks to an individual or group and taking measures to reduce these risks.