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Reducing Violence: Issues, Options, and Opportunities for State Governments

Youths & Schools


Michael Greene, Ph.D., Executive Director, Violence Institute of New Jersey, University of Medicine and Dentistry, Newark, NJ.

Victor LaCerva, M.D., Medical Director, Family Health Bureau, New Mexico Department of Health, Santa Fe, NM.

The following programs have been shown to be effective in some locations in mitigating violence within schools:

  • Environment security measures: metal detectors, magnetically locked doors, increased lighting, increased police presence, and surveillance cameras.
  • Peer-led programs: peer mediation, student problem-solving, and community organizing.
  • Psycho-emotional programs: counseling, mentoring, support groups.
  • Climate changes: smaller classes, curricular changes, uniforms, alternative schools.

Dr. Greene indicated that all programs might not be effective in all school systems, but a wide array of opportunities are available, and technical assistance is also available for assessing needs and establishing programs within schools.

Strategies for planning and establishing school-based violence prevention programs include:

  • The establishment of a planning community—including all key stakeholders (teachers, administrators, counselors, students, parents, etc.).
  • The identification of gaps within policies and programs to address violence and identification of enhancements and additions that could be made to programs—based on a comprehensive needs assessment.
  • The establishment of identification and referral systems for troubled students—having the ability to identify and respond to those students who are at risk or who might put others at risk.

New Mexico's initiative to ease the problems of youth violence has as a key message: Youngsters must have meaningful adult involvement in their lives to reduce the effects of external pressures and disappointments that all youth face in the process of growing up.

New Mexico has, therefore, developed youth-centered programs that include:

  • Hiring young people at the State level to work on program development.
  • Developing teen-based health centers and social service opportunities so that all needs, medical and emotional, can be handled effectively in one location.
  • Working with kids that are "bullies" and troubled students, as they are always victims in disguise.
  • Developing a list of best practices that have worked within the State and enhancing these practices.


Ellickson P, et al. Profiles of Violent Youth: Substance Abuse and Other Concurrent Problems. Am J Public Health 1997;87(6):985-91.

Greene MB. Youth Violence in the City: The Role of Educational Interventions. Health Educ Behav 1998;25(2):175-93.

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