Youth Violence Prevention

Myths and Facts

Myth: Adolescent violence is an inner-city problem.

Fact: Violence occurs throughout America and across the state of Illinois. Firearm injuries are the number one cause of injury-related death in seven states and the District of Columbia. Violence is associated with poverty. Since half of all African-American teenagers live in poverty, violence rates among black adolescents are high, but are also high among poor white Americans.

Myth: Young children don't use guns.

Fact: Young children might not know the difference between toy guns and real guns. Their curiosity is stronger than their awareness of danger; they need protection from guns. Even young children are strong enough to pull a trigger.

Myth: Carrying a gun provides protection.

Fact: Carrying a weapon can result in a sense of boldness that leads to foolish behaviors. If another person sees the gun, he or she may draw and shoot first. Carrying a gun can give a false sense of protection; it may actually make a person less safe.

Myth: Most homicides result from drug-related crimes.

Fact: According to the FBI, less than 40 percent of violent deaths are associated with another crime. Most violence, including homicide, results from arguments or conflicts between friends and acquaintances, or domestic disputes.

Myth: Most violence is racially motivated.

Fact: Most assaults and murders involve two people of the same race.

Myth: "I would be safer with a gun in my home because there is so much violence."

Fact: A person with a gun at home is nearly three times more likely to be killed than a neighbor who doesn't have a gun. Shootings at home often occur when a friend or family member is mistaken for an intruder, when a fight between a husband and wife or boyfriend or girlfriend gets out of control, or when a child finds a gun.

Myth: Kids who fight well - the ones who are good with their hands - are safest.

Fact: The safest, most popular kids are critical thinkers and problem solvers. They know how to use their minds and mouths to solve problems, rather than their fists. Kids who fight a lot - even if they're "good" at it - eventually run into someone who is armed.

Myth: In order to gain respect from peers, boys have to be willing to fight.

Fact: Youths who are neither bullies nor aggressors—who are called problem solvers by peers—are the most successful and popular kids in school.

Myth: Juvenile violence is increasing.

Fact: According to FBI national arrest statistics, the arrest rate of juveniles for violent crime (murder, robbery, rape and aggravated assault) peaked in 1994 and has declined each year since then. This rate is lower now than in any year since at least 1980.

Myth: School violence is increasing.

Fact: The rate of violent crimes in U.S. public schools has declined since 1994. The serious violent crime rate (total number of murders, aggravated assaults, robberies and rapes per 100,000 students) in 2007 was less than a third what it was in 1994.


Illinois Department of Public Health | 535 West Jefferson Street | Springfield, Illinois 62761
Phone 217-782-4977 | Fax 217-782-3987 | TTY 800-547-0466