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Violence is a learned behavior. Children learn violent behaviors from their family and peers, as well as observe it in their neighborhoods and in the community at large. These behaviors are reinforced by what youth see on television, on the Internet, in video games, movies, music videos, and what they hear in their music.
When children are disciplined with severe corporal punishment or verbal abuse, or when they are physically or sexually abused, or when they witness such behavior in their home, it is not surprising that they behave violently toward others.
Research studies have shown that violent behavior can be decreased or even prevented if these risk factors are significantly reduced or eliminated:
Most importantly, efforts should be directed at dramatically decreasing the exposure of children and adolescents to violence in the home, community, and through the media.
As an individual is exposed to more risk factors, the probability that he or she will engage in violent behavior increases. Clearly, violence leads to violence.
Get help quickly if your child is exhibiting these warning signs for potential violence:
Typically, the greater the number of these warning signs present, the greater the risk. It is important to realize, however, that many children exhibit these warning signs and never resort to violence. Even so, these signs can be a cue that something is wrong, and your child needs help.
As a precaution, make sure that your child does not have access to firearms, and remove other dangerous materials or objects from your home.
If there is a gun in your home, it must be kept out of reach of your children and their friends.
If there is a gun in your home, keep it unloaded and locked away, separate from the bullets, with the key available only to responsible adults.
Teenagers often act without thinking first. When teenagers are angry or depressed, they are more likely to kill themselves or harm themselves or others if they can easily get a gun.
It's best not to have a gun in your home at all if someone who lives there is depressed or thinking of suicide, or is a troubled teenager.
If you have a gun in your home, you are 5 times more likely to have a suicide in your house than homes without a gun. An unlocked gun could be the death of your family.
If you are concerned about your child possibly committing violence, you need to arrange for him or her to be seen by a qualified mental health professional.
Look for a child/family mental health professional who is experienced in working with adolescents and their families.
The goals of treatment typically focus on helping the teen to:
Information provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center, and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
What To Do in an Emergency
In an emergency situation, if you feel you or others are in danger, or if your child refuses help, it may be necessary to contact local police for assistance or take the child to the nearest emergency room for evaluation. Do not hesitate to call 911 or a crisis hotline if you believe that your child is a danger to himself/herself or others.
by John Townsend
ACT (Adults and Children Together Against Violence) ~ Violence prevention project that focuses on adults who raise, care for, and teach young children ages 0 to 8 years. It is designed to prevent violence by helping these adults to be positive role modls and learn the skills to teach young children nonviolent ways to resolve conflicts, deal with frustration, and handle anger.
Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence ~ CSPV, a research program of the Institute of Behavioral Science (IBS) at the University of Colorado at Boulder, provides informed assistance to groups committed to understanding and preventing violence, particularly adolescent violence.
Dating Violence Resource Center ~ Twenty percent of teenage girls and young women have experienced some form of dating violence -- controlling, abusive, and aggressive behavior in a dating or romantic relationship. Call toll-free: 1-800-FYI-CALL
Minnesota Center Against Violence and Abuse ~ Research, education, and access to violence-related resources.
National Center for Victims of Crime ~ Resource and advocacy organization that serves individuals, families, and communities harmed by crime. Call the toll-free National Crime Victim Helpline at 1-800-FYI-CALL.
National Coalition Against Violent Athletes ~ Educates the public on a variety of issues regarding athletes and violent behavior, while also providing support to the victims, including but not limited to, advocacy, referrals, and research.
National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center ~ A Federal resource for communities working to prevent violence committed by and against young people.
Prevention Institute ~ Community projects that address injury and violence prevention, traffic safety, health disparities, nutrition and physical activity, and youth development.
Animal Abuse and Youth Violence (pdf) ~ An overview of the underreported phenomenon of animal abuse in childhood and adolescence. Particular attention is given to the role of animal abuse as a symptom of conduct disorder.
Best Practices of Youth Violence Prevention ~ The effectiveness of specific violence prevention practices in four key areas: parents and families; home visiting; social and conflict resolution skills; and mentoring.
Detecting the potential for violence ~ What is the difference between a threat that is likely to be acted on and a threat that is not?
Hate on Display: A Visual Database of Extremist Symbols, Logos and Tattoos ~ An overview of symbols frequently used by hate or extremist groups.
Nearly one in three adolescents participated in violent behavior over past year ~ A national study reveals that nearly 7.8 million adolescents aged 12 to 17, almost one third (30.9 percent), participated in any of three violent behaviors -- a serious fight at school or work; involvement in group-against-group fighting; and attacking others with intent to seriously hurt them.
Parent Abuse: The Abuse of Parents by Their Teenage Children (pdf) ~ Defines parent abuse and discusses how wide spread it is. Discusses who is likely to be abusive, who is likely to be abused, the effects it has on the family, and how to get help for the abusive youth.
Violence in Media Entertainment ~ Media violence has not just increased in quantity; it has also become much more graphic, much more sexual, and much more sadistic.
What Challenges are Boys Facing, and What Opportunities Exist to Address These Challenges? (pdf) ~ Research indicates that boys who have been exposed to family or neighborhood violence or spend time among aggressive peers are more likely to both engage in violent acts and to become victims of violence. Evidence shows that protective factors include having a negative attitude toward aggressive behavior, having positive friendships, having supportive and caring parents, having good problem solving and conflict resolution skills, living in neighborhoods where firearms are not readily available, being involved in structured activities, and not being involved in gangs.
World Report on Violence and Health: Youth Violence (pdf) ~ This report provides a review of the problem of violence on a global scale – what it is, whom it affects, and what can be done about it.
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