Date of Award


Degree Type

Capstone Project

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


Public Health

First Advisor

Rodney Lyn, PhD

Second Advisor

John Steward, MPH


INTRODUCTION: Youth violence is a significant public health problem that exists in the United States. In 2014, about 13 youth in the United States were victims of homicide each and every day and an additional 1,642 youth needed medical care because of physical assault-related injuries. Guided by social cognitive theory, it is understood that to inform youth development and decision making, youth need to be placed in structures where they are able to avoid violent situations, learn to solve problems non-violently by enhancing their peer relationships, learn how to interpret behavioral cues, and improve their conflict resolution skills. One such promising prevention strategy possibility is ensuring broad access to after-school programs that include such a structure. The purpose and plan for this capstone is to review the problem of youth violence, examine associated factors, and articulate a theoretical basis for after-school programs as a prevention strategy. The end product will be a policy brief, informing policymakers of the potential after-school programs have to help reduce youth violence in the United States.

METHODS: The scholarly literature was used to gather data on the problem of youth violence and to review and identify prevention strategies to reduce the problem. The after-school setting was identified as viable to prevention efforts. The capstone identified effective after-school programs that focused on youth exposure to violence. These programs will be identified and summarized in this paper. The databases used in this literature review were EBSCO and PubMed. This capstone also used addition resources such as programs websites, strategic guides, and manuals that related to violence, youth development, after-school programs, and prevention.

DISCUSSION: While after-school programs are a viable option for reducing youth violence, barriers exists that limit access to these programs. A review of the literature shows that over eleven million children are without supervision between the hours of 3 and 6 PM. The major reason for this is that limited funding goes into after-school programs. While using the social-cognitive theory to address individual and relationships factors that youth violence is important, that only addresses a portion of the issue. The upstream environmental factors have to be addressed as well, in particularly policies that shape the communities in which youth live. After the literature review, it is understood that there is a need to reduce youth violence and after-school programs are a viable option. This paper identifies two recommendations 1) implementing policy interventions and 2) state-ran after-school systems.

Capstone Policy Brief.pdf (1017 kB)
Policy Brief