Report of the APA Commission on Violence and Youth


More than a half-century ago, psychology brought the study of violence and human aggression into the realm of science. The Commission on Violence and Youth of the American Psychological Association (APA) was empaneled in July 1991 to bring the body of knowledge generated during the last 5 decades to bear on the troubling national problem of violence involving youth.

Psychology’s message is one of hope. The Commission overwhelmingly concluded, on the basis of the body of psychological research on violence, that violence is not a random, uncontrollable, or inevitable occurrence. Many factors, both individual and social, contribute to an individual’s propensity to use violence, and many of these factors are within our power to change. Although we acknowledge that the problem of violence involving youth is staggering and that there are complex macrosocial, biomedical, and other considerations that must be addressed in a comprehensive response to the problem, there is overwhelming evidence that we can intervene effectively in the lives of young people to reduce or prevent their involvement in violence.

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