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EIF report

Preventing gang and youth violence: Spotting signals of risk and supporting children and young people


17 Nov 2015

This report provides a summary of key findings from two studies into the evidence base on early intervention to prevent gang and youth violence.

Overview report



The two reports draw on the international evidence base to begin to answer key questions about how and when we can identify the signs that children and young people may be at risk, and which types of programme interventions appear to work (or not to work) to prevent young people becoming or staying involved in gangs or violent youth culture. It also provides an initial guide to what is learnt about signals of risk, and interprets these findings for a practitioner audience.

Some of the signs that children and young people may be at greater risk of involvement in gangs or violence are present from birth. Strong predictors, such as substance use, can be seen in children as young as 7. It is vital that local early help and safeguarding systems spot and respond appropriately to these signals of risk and when required provide additional support at the earliest opportunity.

It is also vital that this support stands the best possible chance of being effective. These children and young people may be some of the most vulnerable in our society. They need high-quality, evidence-based support, delivered in the right way by the right people to help them build critical social and emotional skills, develop resilience and lead safe, healthy and law-abiding lives.

These reports do not provide all of the answers, nor do they provide everything that practitioners might want to know. They do provide rich source material for those seeking to provide early intervention that responds to signals of risk, improves outcomes and delivers savings.

About the editor

Stephanie Waddell

Steph is assistant director for impact and knowledge mobilisation at EIF.