Violence is a learned behavior – teenagers are inundated with images of violent behavior everyday. They learn violent behaviors from their family, their peers, the media, and video games. These behaviors are reinforced again and again by the excessive violence that teens see on the Internet, in video games, music videos, and movies.
Research studies have shown that violent behavior can be decreased by reducing these risk factors: exposure to violence in the media and video games, exposure to violence in the home, school, and in the community, use of drugs and alcohol, being the victim of physical or sexual abuse, and physical and emotional violence in the home.
Children that are disciplined with severe physical or verbal abuse or that witness such behavior are at risk of becoming violent themselves
The primary responsibility lies with the parents. When a teen is exposed to more risk factors, the probability that he/she will engage in violent behavior increases dramatically. Children who grow up with violence in the home use violence to solve their problems outside the home.
The number two cause of youth violence is how young people treat each other. Bullying, out- casting, and dissing are pervasive throughout all grade levels, starting in grade school and often escalating into violence by the secondary school years.
By putting a stop to bullying in our schools and training staff to quickly respond to it, the cycle of bullying and insults can be stopped before it escalates into violence (Recent trends on Teenage Violence).
Parents can make the biggest difference. The following recommendations will help to curb teenage violence:
- First, accept responsibility for raising your children
- Acknowledge that all parents may sometimes need help, and take the initiative to get that help
- Listen to and hear what children have to say
- Spend time with them and discuss their interests and concerns
- Set boundaries
- Instill values including respect for others
- Meet regularly for advice, information and support with other parents
- Bee supportive of teachers and school officials
- Pay attention to the movies and television shows your teen watches, the video games they play, and the music they listen to. Monitor their use of internet sites
Try to find the time to serve as mentors, coaches and after-school supervisors of other children. Create a whole community of support for your teenager, working with friends, schools, and community organizations.
Our schools are over-flowing with children who do not get the love, guidance, acceptance, and support they need from their families. It is important to provide a safe atmosphere for all children. This cannot be accomplished without attacking head on the root causes of violence. To that end, we must do our best as a community to provide structure and support for the unguided and lost youth in our midst (Bruised Inside).
“Bruised Inside” What our Children say about Youth Violence. May 2005.
21 Aug. 2006. http://www.parentsagainstviolence.org