Young people are vulnerable to being victims and perpetrators of violence.
Interpersonal violence is a leading cause of death among youth aged 15-29 years. Over 15 000 young Europeans are murdered each year, 4 out of 10 of them by a knife. Poorer young males are much more at risk of violence than those better off. Deaths are just the tip of the iceberg and it is estimated that for every death, 20 youth are admitted to hospital. Reports also show that the prevalence of bullying in schools is high.
Youth violence cannot be solely blamed on individuals: it is a product of biological, social, cultural and economic factors. Many of the root causes are in childhood and addressing these is a societal responsibility that falls on many sectors such as health, justice, education, welfare, labour and local government.
The information accumulated by several countries in the European Region shows that public policy and sustained approaches addressing the underlying causes of violence can make countries safer. If all countries reached the same homicide rates as the lowest in the Region, 9 out of 10 murders could be avoided and Europe could potentially save over 13 000 young lives per year. These make compelling arguments for increased investment in violence prevention. The evidence for this action has been collated in the “European report on preventing violence and knife crime among young people”.