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Public Health. 2007 May;121(5):357-66. Epub 2007 Mar 1.

Adolescent perceptions of violence: formative research findings from a social marketing campaign to reduce violence among middle school youth.

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  • 1Department of Interdisciplinary Oncology, University of South Florida College of Medicine, MDC 44, MRC-CANCONT, 12902 Magnolia Drive, Tampa, FL 33612, USA.



To identify the specific barriers and benefits of violent behaviours as noted by middle school youth and to develop a social marketing campaign that attends to the needs and wants of the target audience.


A non-experimental, qualitative study design was used to assess youth perceptions of violence in a large, southeast urban school district.


Using a social marketing approach, a series of in-depth interviews were conducted with middle school youths, to gain an understanding of perceived barriers and benefits of violent behaviours. Additionally, interviews assessed youth preferences for an effective spokesperson for an anti-violence campaign. Qualitative analysis of coded transcripts revealed key themes that were incorporated into a multi-media initiative.


Critical themes of the research highlighted that the majority of violence occurs at school, during school hours and most of the youths believed the use of violence was necessary to defend themselves from other peers or to protect family members. Another key finding pertained to adolescent views on violent people; although the majority of respondents reported engaging in violent acts, they did not view themselves as violent. Results were used to inform the development of a social marketing campaign designed to reduce youth violence among middle school students in a large, urban central Florida school district.


Findings from the formative research led to the creation and pre-testing of five potential campaign brands. The campaign slogan that tested best with the target audience emphasized the choice youth have to either engage in violent behaviour and suffer the consequences or to 'rise above' physical conflict and reap the benefits.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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