Antigua and Barbuda
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Youth for Labour: Preventing Youth Violence in 5 Simple Steps

Writen by Julien D. Kentish, ABLP Youth, Rural South President

Youth violence can manifest in various forms, ranging from verbal abuse to physical aggression, bullying, and gang activity, which result in injuries, death, and destroy community cohesion.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), homicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for African American youths between the ages of 10 and 24 years globally, and the leading cause of death overall among this minority community. Violence also has physiological, psychological, and economic implications for the individual, community, and a nation at large. As such, the Central Youth for Labour (Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party’s Youth Arm) believe it is imperative to develop prevention strategies and implement measures aimed at reducing youth violence especially as it has been on a drastic rise. 

Understanding the Causes of Youth Violence.

Environmental factors such as poverty, crime-prone neighbourhoods, poor school performance, family disintegration, and inadequate social welfare programs are the main contributors of youth violence. Children who grow up in impoverished and crime-prone areas

are also more likely to experience violence and commit crimes. In these situations they may lack the necessary opportunities and programs to develop positive coping mechanisms, depriving them of positive role models and experiences and an overall quality of life. Such effects could lead to the reinforcement of negative behaviours and the adoption of violence as a way to solve disputes.

Psychological Factors Contributing to Youth Violence.

Youth violence can also be attributed to psychological factors such as mental health, substance abuse, and trauma. Individuals who have trouble managing anger or those who have experienced traumatic events are at a higher risk for violent behaviours. Furthermore, the experience of violence or exposure to it can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which could make individuals re-enact violent episodes. Substance abuse can also contribute to youth violence because it alters the mental state of users.

Implementing Prevention Strategies.

The development of programs aimed at addressing risk factors are crucial in reducing youth violence. Such programs should be comprehensive and incorporate specific interventions that alter both the individual and the environment. Examples of such programs include Schools Violence Prevention Programs, Community Violence Intervention Programs, and Parenting Programs, among others.

Community based programs have proven very effective in curbing youth violence and can be implemented to address environmental factors by providing safe, community-based activities and creating stable social opportunities. These programs can offer a variety of resources and opportunities to youths who may not have any other outlets for their creativity or energy. Early childhood development programs can also help parents enrich their children’s social and emotional development, leading to healthier adulthood.

Promoting Positive Behaviours and Strengthening Skills.

The promotion of positive behaviours and skill strengthening is an essential part of any effective violence prevention program. The goal of such programs is to develop social-emotional learning, emotional regulation and problem-solving skills. When children learn how to regulate their emotions and communicate effectively, they develop better ways of self-expression and conflict resolution. Conflict resolution programs can be implemented in

schools to encourage students to deal with difficult situations and resolve conflicts without resorting to violence.

Partnering with Communities to Prevent Youth Violence.

Schools are an excellent platform through which youth violence prevention programs can be implemented. Implementing these programs in schools includes allowing trained professionals to work closely with teachers, students, and parents. Schools can introduce programs designed to provide opportunities for character development and skill building while providing an environment where children feel seen, heard, and respected. For example, peer-to-peer mentoring programs where older students act as role models or student-led activities contribute to an environment that promotes positive behaviours

Family and Parent Involvement in Prevention Efforts.

Parents significantly influence their children’s behaviour and emotional development. By creating a structured and supportive home environment, parents can help their children develop emotional management skills and healthy communication habits. Joining parent groups, parental school committees, or facilitating dialogues between parents and teachers can help to create support networks for other parents and share skills and best practices to raise responsible youth.


Youth violence is an issue of concern to everyone. It impacts our society in many ways, from personal injury, loss of life, and property destruction to social instability. A comprehensive approach to addressing youth violence requires addressing the underlying environmental and psychological factors, such as poverty, lack of opportunities, substance abuse, trauma, and others. Developing programs that address these factors, promoting positive behaviours and strengthening skills, partnering with schools, and involving parents and family members are critical components to effectively address this issue. With a collective approach, we can reduce youth violence and create safer, healthier communities. Let us capitalize on the resources that we have and start making positive changes today.

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