Reducing Youth Violence:

Coordinated Federal Efforts and Early Intervention Strategies Could Help

T-HRD-92-22: Published: Mar 31, 1992. Publicly Released: Mar 31, 1992.

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GAO discussed efforts to prevent the increasing problem of youth violence, focusing on: (1) the extent of youth violence; (2) the characteristics of youth at risk of committing serious crimes; (3) early intervention strategies; and (4) current federal funding to prevent youth delinquency and violence. GAO noted that: (1) between 1965 and 1989, the arrest rate of minor youths for violent crimes increased over 150 percent; (2) homicide is the second leading cause of death among youths between 15 and 24 years old; (3) 80 percent of all youth homicides involved firearms; (4) in 1988, youth violence and delinquency cost taxpayers $1.7 billion; (5) most at-risk youths come from dysfunctional or abusive families, act out antisocial behaviors, have learning, drug, or alcohol problems, and live in urban areas with high crime rates; (6) federal officials stated that preventing youth violence requires a multifaceted approach which would reduce multiple risks, reach all youths, be sensitive to cultural differences, provide early prevention and treatment, and deal with violence problems; (7) providing home visiting in at-risk communities can result in multiple positive outcomes, reduce later delinquency and violent behavior, and reduce violent risks; (8) providing comprehensive in-school services increases at-risk students' access to services that could help them solve their problems; and (9) in 1989, the Department of Justice spent approximately $4.2 billion to provide support services and vocational education and training to at-risk youth. GAO believes that the government should coordinate its efforts to reduce violence among youths.

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