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25. April 2013 14:18

Social Scientists call for better prevention of youth violence

A new ESF position paper says more research is needed for effective prevention of bullying and violence.

A new position paper, The Future of Evidence-based Bullying and Violence Prevention in Childhood and Adolescence, has been published today by the European Science Foundation.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an average of 565 children and young adults die each day; and for every youth homicide there are around 20–40 victims of non-fatal youth violence receiving hospital treatment. Over the past decade, significant advances have been made in European evidence-based research on the prevention of violence and bullying. However, despite this progress, there is still a great need for action due to the constantly high numbers of children and adolescents involved in bullying and violence.

The ESF publication exposes current developments and challenges concerning youth violence and bullying and establishes a set of general principals of effective prevention; it gives examples for risk and protective factors at the level of the individual, family, school and neighbourhood/society at large.

“This report is a key step toward governments deciding on intervention and prevention policies that could achieve noticeable population-wide reductions in bullying and aggressive behaviour” claim Tina Malti and Manuel Eisner, authors of the position paper. “This requires close cooperation between local and national governments and prevention researchers.”

The publication highlights nine recommendations for advances to be made toward a European research policy that can contribute to achieving a significant reduction in bullying and violence:

  • expanding the evidence base, especially high-quality experimental evaluation research,
  • promoting innovation in violence prevention programmes development,
  • a better link between basic developmental psychological and biological research on the causes of violence and applied prevention research,
  • evaluating the effectiveness of embedded practices and system change,
  • integrating situational and developmental approaches to violence prevention,
  • developing and testing tailored prevention strategies,
  • improving quality standards in prevention evaluation research,
  • improving knowledge of mechanisms and active components of violence prevention strategies,
  • support for large-scale field trials and mainstreaming.

This position paper is an outcome of a conference on ‘Evidence-Based Prevention of Bullying and Youth Violence: European Innovations and Experiences’ held 5-6 July 2011 at Institute of Criminology at the University of Cambridge (UK) supported by the Standing Committee for the Social Sciences of the European Science Foundation. The event gathered 28 international academics engaged in criminology and youth studies issues as well as law, psychology and sociology.

The ESF Position Paper The Future of Evidence-based Bullying and Violence Prevention in Childhood and Adolescence is available online at

Notes to editors

For more information, please contact

Shira Tabachnikoff+33 (0) 3 88 76 71 32


About The European Science Foundation

The European Science Foundation coordinates collaboration in research, networking, and funding of international research programmes, as well as carrying out strategic and science policy activities at a European level. Its members are 67 national research funding and performing agencies, learned societies and academies in 29 countries.