More about:

Youth Violence Prevention Through Positive Youth Development

To address youth violence in the Commonwealth, we have aligned two funding streams: Primary Violence Prevention Through Positive Youth Development and Youth At Risk: Secondary Violence Prevention and Intervention Through Positive Youth Development.

Current Massachusetts data suggest that violence continues to be a major issue for young people. According to recent statistics from the Health and Risk Behaviors of Massachusetts Youth, 2013 survey, 12% of attending high school students reported having carried a weapon in the previous 30 days, 3% carried a gun in the past 30 days, and 4% were involved in a fight in the past year in which they were injured and required medical treatment due to weapon use. One fifth (20%) of students reported having been in a physical fight in the past year and 7% reported gang involvement. Eighteen percent (17%) of students reported being victims of bullying while 14% reported being victims of cyber-bullying in the past year, and middle school-aged youth reported that female students were more likely than male students to report being bullied 1-7 times in the past year (33% vs. 24%).

In order to address the myriad of youth violence in the Commonwealth, The Youth Violence Prevention Services Unit within MDPH has aligned two separate funding streams: Primary Violence Prevention Through Positive Youth Development and Youth At Risk: Secondary Violence Prevention and Intervention Through Positive Youth Development.

Youth At Risk Programs utilize a positive youth development approach, target the highest risk youth and include programming considered “secondary/tertiary prevention” activities. These “downstream” initiatives include:

  • Gang intervention programs
  • Support for outreach workers in neighborhoods with high incidents of violence
  • Diversion programs
  • Job readiness/life skills/employment programs
  • Financial literacy programs
  • High-risk youth mentor/apprentice programs
  • Services specifically catering to LGBTQ youth, immigrant/refugee/undocumented youth, youth with disabilities and homeless/unaccompanied/unstably housed youth

These programs also address a variety of health issues which both directly and indirectly impact a young person’s risk for violence including sexual violence, violence against LGBTQ youth, teen dating violence, bullying and suicide as well as other significant public health issues such as teen pregnancy and substance use. These programs serve the highest risk young men and women including “proven risk” youth, meaning young people.

Primary Youth Violence Prevention Programs focus on utilizing a positive youth development approach, target youth at high risk for violence but who are not necessarily engaging in violence yet and would include programming considered “primary prevention”. These “upstream” initiatives include but would not be limited to:

  • Peer Education and Community/Civic Engagement initiatives
  • Programs which work to build self esteem and self worth
  • Programs (including recreation) which work to promote leadership and teamwork
  • Mentorship programs
  • Programs which work to create “safe spaces” for disenfranchised youth including LGBTQ youth, homeless/unaccompanied/unstably housed youth and immigrant and refugee youth
  • Programs which offer assistance with school work
  • Job training/readiness and internships

In addition to the populations previously mentioned, these programs serve youth from impoverished communities or communities heavily impacted by violence or drugs, youth engaging in substance use and youth struggling in school. Programs under the Youth Violence section work with youth at the younger end of the targeted age range of 10-24.

For additional information regarding Primary Youth Violence Prevention and/or Youth at Risk programs, please contact Steven Smyth at Steven.Smyth@State.MA.US or (617) 624-5490.

Primary Violence Prevention Programs

Agency and Address Program Name and Contact Info Region
Boston Asian Youth Essential Services
199 Harrison Ave.
Boston, MA 02111
YES Program
Greater Boston
Bridge of Central Mass., Inc.
4 Mann St.
Worcester, MA 01602
Safe Homes
Brookview House Inc.
2 Brookview St.
Dorchester, MA 02124

95 Moreland St.
Roxbury, MA 02119
Above & Beyond
Greater Boston
Center For Human Development Inc.
332 Birnie Ave.
Springfield, MA 01107

Bangs Ctr.
70 Boltwood Walk
Amherst, MA 01002
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hampshire County
Western MA
Chelsea Education Foundation
500 Broadway
Room 216
Chelsea, MA 02150

Chelsea HS
299 Everett Ave.
Room 1077
Chelsea, MA 02150
REACH Program
Chelsea MA
Community Action Fran Ham N Quab Reg
393 Main St.
Greenfield, MA 01301
Western MA
Girls Incorporated Of Holyoke
6 Open Square Way
PO Box 6812
Holyoke, MA 01041
413-533-0796 x 109
Holyoke/Western MA
Inquilinos Boricuas En Accion
405 Shawmut Ave.
Boston MA 02118
Cacique Youth Program
Greater Boston
International Institute Of Greater Lawrence
125 Amesbury St.
Lawrence, MA 01840

137 Monument St.
Haverhill, MA 01832
Haverhill VIP
L U K Crisis Center Inc.
545 Westminster St.
Fitchburg, MA 01420
Youth Development Services
Lawrence Community Works
168 Newbury St.
Lawrence, MA 01841
Movement City Youth Network
Lowell Community Health Center
161 Jackson St.
2nd Floor
Lowell, MA 01852
Lowell Youth Council
Mass Coalition For Occupational Safety And Health
1532B Dorchester Ave.
Dorchester, MA 02122
Teens Lead At Work
Greater Boston
Northstar Learning Center
53 Linden St.
New Bedford, MA 02740

Roosevelt Middle School
119 Frederick St.
New Bedford, MA 02740
Tying on Success & Leading Senoritas
New Bedford
Old Colony YMCA
320 Main St.
Brockton, MA 02301
Kidz Konnect
Roxbury Youthworks
841 Parker St.
Suite 104-106
Roxbury Crossing, MA 02120
YOLO Program
Greater Boston
Sociedad Latina
1530 Tremont St.
Roxbury, MA 02120
Pathways to Success
Greater Boston
Springfield School Volunteers
Smith College
Morgan Hall
37 Prospect St.
Northampton, MA 01060
420 Pearl St.
Malden, MA 02148
YMCA of Metro North
2 Centennial Dr
Peabody, MA 01960

20 Neptune Blvd.
Lynn, MA 01902
Kaya Program


Did you find the information you were looking for on this page? * required
We use your feedback to help us improve this site but we are not able to respond directly. Please do not include personal or contact information. If you need a response, please locate contact information elsewhere on this page or in the footer.
Tell us what you think