Journal of Child and Adolescent Mental Health

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Clinical Perspective

Youth violence risk assessment: gaps in local knowledge and directions for future research

Amelia van der Merwe, Andrew Dawes


There is a lack of research on violence risk assessment in South Africa, particularly on the assessment of risk for violence in children and adolescents. This is problematic, because of the strong association between conducting sound assessments and the appropriate referral of youths to intervention programmes. Considering the very high levels of violence in our country, the effective treatment of violent youths is imperative. International literature on violence risk assessment indicates that although a number of instruments designed to assess youth violence risk exist, many primarily focus on identifying psychopathic tendencies in young people, which has stimulated much debate amongst scholars. In addition to paying careful attention to the content of youth violence risk instruments, their administration should be monitored, to ensure that assessment practice is up to standard. Future research efforts in South Africa should be dedicated towards testing the applicability of instruments developed internationally in local settings, and towards the development and testing of local instruments.

Journal of Child and Adolescent Mental Health 2007, 19(1): 57–64
AJOL African Journals Online