Assessing Violence Risk Among Youth

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Despite recent declines in the reported rate of juvenile violence, there appears to be increasing public and professional concern about violent behavior among children and adolescents. Media accounts of school shootings and juvenile homicides have prompted a need to develop approaches for systematically assessing violence risk. This article describes the task of assessing general violence risk among youth, and argues that a somewhat different approach is required to assess cases where an identified or identifiable young person may pose a risk to a specifically identified or identifiable target (also referred to as “targeted violence”). Key risk factors for violent behavior among children and adolescents are identified, fundamental principles for conducting an assessment of violence potential in clinical and juvenile justice contexts are outlined, and an approach to assessment when an identified person engages in some communication or behavior of concern that brings him or her to official attention is briefly described.

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Journal of Clinical Psychology, v. 56, issue 10, p. 1263-1288