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How do we use therapy to keep children save from becoming involved in violence?

At the Youth Endowment Fund, our mission is to prevent children and young people from involvement in violence. To actively tackle this, we acknowledge children are dependent on seven key sectors to help them stay safe – one of these is through psychological therapies and health interventions. In each sector, we are collaborating with delivery organisations and system leaders to gain a better understanding and implement changes most likely to reduce violence. 

There is so much we can all do to keep children safe. Our job is to make it easy to know what works and to help you to make it happen so we can best support families facing challenges to help them create a safe and loving environment where children can get the care they need. 

Why are we focusing on Health?

Psychological therapies are talking therapies, delivered by trained therapists, that aim to treat psychological and emotional problems. They may involve one-to-one, group, online and phone elements, and may include just the individual, their family, and their partners. They are all delivered as secondary (to those at risk of violence) or tertiary interventions (to those already involved in the youth justice system). No therapies are delivered universally to all children without some diagnosis of need and identification of risk.   

Toolkit evidence

See below evidence from the YEF Toolkit about approaches to reducing violence that are often used in the Health sector:

Estimated impact approaches evidence quality
(30%+ less violence)
Trauma-specific therapies  
1 2 3 4 5
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
1 2 3 4 5
Social skills training
1 2 3 4 5
A and E navigators
1 2 3 4 5
(10%-30% less violence)
Functional Family Therapy (FFT)  
1 2 3 4 5
Multi-Systemic Therapy
1 2 3 4 5
(2%-9% less violence)
Adventure and Wilderness Therapy
1 2 3 4 5

Explore more approaches on YEF’s Toolkit summarising the best available research evidence on preventing children and young people’s involvement in violence.

Changing Practice

What should health and therapy providers do to prevent violence?

In March 2027, we’ll publish our Therapies Practice Guidance. Through this guidance we’re aiming to provide health and therapy provision leaders across England and Wales with actionable advice on how to support the prevention of youth violence. When incidents of youth violence occur, the impacts are keenly felt by the peers, practitioners, families and communities that surround the children involved. Health and therapy leaders are often left asking, what role can we play to prevent violence in the future? This guidance will aim to answer this question.

Changing the system

In March 2027 we’ll publish a report outlining the 5-10 ways the health and therapy system could make it easier to do what works to keep children safe from violence. We will be working with a Strategic Group of senior leaders across health to help us shape these recommendations. The report will be informed by the evidence YEF has already produced, evaluations that will complete by Autumn 2027, and new research that YEF will commission following advice from the Strategic Group. 

Find out how you can get involved with YEF

You are invited to join our events specifically for the health sector, to see how we can collectively tackle violence prevention for young people.

We are funding several projects exploring key questions related to cognitive-behavioural therapy; A&E navigators; trauma-specific therapies, Multi-Systemic Therapy; and Functional Family Therapy. We are also launching a Therapies themed funding round in Spring 2024.  Projects include new evaluations, secondary data analysis projects and systems research.