Mediation, mentoring and peer-support to reduce youth violence: A systematic review


After road traffic collisions and suicide, violence is the greatest threat to life of young people. In England and Wales, 43 young people aged 15-24 years died from assault in 2012. These premature deaths are a fraction of the thousands of young people who attend hospital each year with violence-related injuries and who survive to live with scars and psychological trauma.

While it is clear that youth violence poses a serious threat to the health and well-being of the young people in the UK, and the population as a whole, it is unclear what strategies are effective in reducing violent crime among young people. Some initiatives have followed a 'public health approach' which attempt to address societal and attitudinal aspects and generally implies prevention of disease in the population. Many public health interventions are introduced 'upstream' of the onset of disease, and as such many are delivered by non-medical professionals. Public health interventions for youth violence prevention include early interventions with at-risk youth, for example - contact and interaction with an influential peer or positive role model that might affect a change in attitudes and behaviours towards violence. This individual might be a 'peer' (of similar age and/or background), a 'mentor' (someone with more experience, skills and abilities), or a 'peer mediator' who intervenes between youth to prevent retaliation.

This review aimed to provide a comprehensive account of the range of violence prevention programmes for young people (aged up to 25 years) who have either been involved in, or are identified as being at high-risk of violence, and that included contact and interaction with a 'peer mediator', a 'mentor', or an influential 'peer' (peer support).

The review feeds in to the Crime Reduction Toolkit narrative on Mentoring and was conducted by Dr Phil Edwards at the Cochrane Injuries Group in the Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

It is the second in a series of systematic reviews to be delivered by the Commissioned Partnership Programme.

A research protocol has been included below.  The protocol covers mediation, mentoring and peer –support interventions to reduce youth knife and gun enabled violence.