Prevention is Key for Combatting Youth Violence

Youth violence is a very real problem. An average of 13 young people per day were victims of homicide in 2010. In a 2011 survey, 16.6% of high schoolers reported that they had carried a gun during the previous 30 days. Also that year, over 700,000 youths were treated in emergency rooms after physical assaults.

How can educators, school administrators, counselors and students combat the problem of youth violence? Prevention is the key.

The following activity ideas can be used with students during National Youth Violence Prevention Week to encourage positive behaviors.

Anger Management

  • Practice deep breathing exercises. Imagine smelling a flower, then blowing out a candle.

  • Role play scenarios in which students respond in a non-violent manner to a provoking situation.

  • Run a poster contest in which students or classes create designs that promote thinking before acting.


  • Foster an environment where positive treatment of one another is encouraged as the norm. Create a wall display where students’ kind words and actions are recorded for everyone to see.

  • Work together to brainstorm a list of anti-bullying slogans. Design banners that feature the top picks.

  • Help students feel connected to adults by encouraging those adults to learn students’ names and use them when addressing students. Positive relationships discourage bullying behavior and also help bullied students maintain resilience.

  • Establish a reporting system through which students can anonymously report bullying incidents without fear of retaliation.


  • Plan a cultural fair. Groups of students can create displays that feature the food, dress and other unique aspects of various cultures. Participants can browse the booths and try the various foods.

  • Pair up students for an interview activity. Match youths who don’t know each other well, then encourage them to make a list of things they have in common and a list of their differences.

  • Encourage students to take a pledge against racism. This initiative works especially well when paired with a study of the Civil Rights Movement.


  • Organize a food drive for the needy. Make it a competition to see which class can bring in the most food.

  • Work together to clean up the school or a neighborhood park. Remove graffiti and tidy plantings.

  • Spend a day with residents at a retirement home.

  • Coordinate a pet adoption day where community members can find new furry friends from local animal rescue organizations.

More activity ideas are available from the National Association of Students Against Violence Everywhere.