Violence and Crime Prevention
Violence is a learned behavior. Young people are increasingly affected by violence as perpetrators, victims, involuntary observers and as willing voyeurs. Whether the violence is at home, on school property, on a date, at the movies, in a video game or over the airways, homicide, suicide, sexual violence and domestic abuse have become unavoidable points of reference in the lives of adolescents.
According to the U.S. Surgeon General, youth violence is an ongoing national problem, but one that is largely hidden from public view. Nationally, over the past two decades, the number of violent acts by high school seniors has increased by nearly 50 percent, a trend similar to that found in arrests for violent crimes. These acts may never show up in police records, especially if they do not involve firearms. Nationally, neither this incidence rate nor the proportion of high school seniors involved in violence has declined in the years since 1993 - they remain at peak levels.
A decade has passed since Colorado's "Summer of Violence," in 1993, when 36 teens were killed in homicides. Homicide rates for Colorado teens had been declining before the shootings at Columbine High School in 1999, which created an artificial spike in youth homicide rates. Yet homicide remains the third leading cause of death for Colorado teens. Adolescent homicide fatalities represent only a small part of youth physical violence; injuries related to physical assaults, sexual violence and child abuse far outnumber actual homicide deaths.