Structured Assessment of Violence Risk in Youth (SAVRY)

Yesterday I had the opportunity to complete training on effective use of the Structured Assessment of Violence Risk in Youth (SAVRY) tool. This tool, designed for children 12-18 (and used up until 21) has shown moderate validity in predicting adolescent violence.

I just finished reading Youth Violence: Theory, Prevention and Intervention, and the SAVRY was one of the tools covered. It’s performed very well.

The tool focuses on Structured Professional Judgement (SPJ), which is an alternative to two other approaches, Unstructured Clinical Judgement (where the clinician makes their gut impression after an interview, weighing whatever factors they care about in their head) and actuarial approaches (where factors that have been predicted to increase violence risk from a statistical perspective are weighted as present.)

SPJ is a combination of these two approaches; in the case of the SAVRY, it combined static (unlikely to change) risk factors common in actuarial approaches, with dynamic ones that are more likely to be found in clinical judgement assessment.

The elements of the SAVRY are below:

Risk Factors

Historical risk factors
1. History of Violence
2. History of Non-Violent Offending
3. Early Initiation of Violence
4. Past Supervision/Intervention Failures
5. History of Self-Harm or Suicide Attempts
6. Exposure to Violence at Home
7. Childhood History of Maltreatment
8. Parental/Caregiver Criminality
9. Early Caregiver Disruption
10. Poor School Achievement

Social/Contextual risk factors
11. Peer Delinquency
12. Peer Rejection
13. Stress and Poor Coping
14. Poor Parental Management
15. Lack of Personal/Social Support
16. Community Disorganization

Individual risk factors
17. Negative Attitudes
18. Risk Taking/Impulsivity
19. Substance Use Difficulties
20. Anger Management Problems
21. Low Empathy/Remorse
22. Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Difficulties
23. Poor Compliance
24. Low Interest/Commitment to School

Protective factors

P1. Prosocial Involvement
P2. Strong Social Support
P3. Strong Attachments and Bonds
P4. Positive Attitude Towards Intervention and Authority
P5. Strong Commitment to School
P6. Resilient Personality Traits

Cite this article as: MacDonald, D.K., (2015), "Structured Assessment of Violence Risk in Youth (SAVRY)," retrieved on December 9, 2022 from

6 thoughts on “Structured Assessment of Violence Risk in Youth (SAVRY)

  1. Hi Dustin,
    I am a final year student in Forensic psychology. Currently working on a treatment plan for a youth offender, any chance you could recommend studies to look at in relation to the SAVRY and treatments ?

    1. Hi Helen, thanks for visiting. There are some studies noting changes in scores throughout treatment:

      Viljoen, J. L., Gray, A. L., Shaffer, C., Latzman, N. E., Scalora, M. J., & Ullman, D. (2015). Changes in J-SOAP-II and SAVRY Scores Over the Course of Residential, Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment for Adolescent Sexual Offending. Sexual Abuse: A Journal Of Research And Treatment,

      Lodewijks, H. P., Doreleijers, T. A., de Ruiter, C., & Borum, R. (2008). Predictive validity of the Structured Assessment of Violence Risk in Youth (SAVRY) during residential treatment. International Journal Of Law And Psychiatry, 31(Psychopathic traits and risk assessment in children and adolescents), 263-271. doi:10.1016/j.ijlp.2008.04.009

      The majority of the studies involve looking at whether the SAVRY actually predicts recidivism and there is moderate to strong support for that depending on the population.

      Does this answer your question? Please let me know..


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