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What Works in Violence Prevention Among Young People?: A Systematic Review of Reviews

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  • A.G. Kovalenko
  • C. Abraham
  • E. Graham-Rowe
  • M. Levine
  • S. O’Dwyer
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>5/12/2022
<mark>Journal</mark>Trauma, Violence, and Abuse
Issue number5
Number of pages17
Pages (from-to)1388-1404
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date17/07/20
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Violence prevention programs aim to raise awareness, change attitudes, normative beliefs, motivation, and behavioral responses. Many programs have been developed and evaluated, and optimistic claims about effectiveness made. Yet comprehensive guidance on program design, implementation, and evaluation is limited. The aim of this study was to provide an up-to-date review of evidence on what works for whom. A systematic search of PsycINFO, MEDLINE, ERIC, and Sociology Collection ProQuest identified 40 reviews and meta-analyses reporting on the effectiveness of violence prevention programs among young people (age 15–30) in educational institutions, published before October 2018. These included reviews of programs designed to reduce (i) bullying, (ii) dating and relationship violence, (iii) sexual assault, and (iv) antisocial behavior. Only evaluations that reported on behavioral outcomes such as perpetration, victimization, and bystander behavior were included. The reviewed evaluations reported on programs that were mainly implemented in high-income countries in Europe and North America. The majority found small effects on violence reduction and victimization and increases in self-reported bystander behavior. Our findings expose critical gaps in evaluation research in this area and provide recommendations on how to optimize the effectiveness of future programs.