In the years past, youth violence has increased dramatically and has become a major epidemic in American society. Especially among young people in today's atmosphere, violence is a daily occurrence. It’s almost impossible to avoid seeing or partaking in what most consider as violent acts. Bullying is the leading cause of youth violence as well as developmental risk factors throughout stages of adolescents’ lives.
Growing up I had a friend that I spent a lot of time with, whether it was at her house, at school, at a park, and honestly anywhere we could find a way to have fun. For many days she would pick what we did, where we would go on the playground, and even where we would sit for lunch, almost like I was a dog following my owner, but I never really saw a problem with it. One day she told me that we were going to play on the swings, but at that time I didn't want to play on the swings, I wanted to play on the monkey bars. She was furious, she told me that I couldn't be friends with her if I didn't go with her to the swings and at 9 years old I didn’t know any better so I shut my mouth and went with her to the swings. This happened for days on end, but it got worse, she would tell me I was nothing without her, or that I was ugly, or that I would never have any other friends. So eventually I mustered the courage to speak my mind, I told her how I did not like how she wanted to control me and tell me what to do, she was so upset with me but I didn't care I was done with her. After that day, I never hung out with her again, I got some new friends that treated me the right way. This was a very traumatic experience for me and it made it hard for me to trust people into actually being my friend.
As kids grow up they develop opinions that some express more than others. These opinions aren’t always very nice, they are very cruel, harsh, and cause embarrassment for the other person. Adolescents secure themselves by becoming bullies or using bully mentality in order to give themselves power over someone else and hide their weaknesses. Most have bullied others because someone else has done it to them first and use bullying as a protection mechanism. An excerpt from Mental Health Information For Teens: Health Tips about Mental Wellness and Mental Illness by Omnigraphics, Inc. gives the information which discusses that victims more susceptible to this type of violence are usually people with “low self-esteem, poor peer relationships, harsh parenting, or attitudes accepting of violence.” Whether it is physical, mental, or emotional, it can cause victims to become mentally unstable and have long lasting effects on their wellbeing. These children aren’t just bullied at school, they will be bullied in the safety of their home too due to social media. Social media follows them around and psychologically they are not able to pull away and delete the messages or even delete the app. Instead they will try to fire back but it will only make matters worse and mentally they will start to think that they don’t matter or everyone would be better off without them, and even try to harm that person and then themselves in the process. So, as a result of bullying it can cause an increased risk for anxiety, sleep deprivation, depression, and violence, which can affect them all throughout their adult lives. When teens become violent it is often a danger to the community and more often than not, their family members and friends. They will be the ones that end up getting injured as a result from the teens violence.
Over the years teens have displayed behavioral problems that often lead to violence, as a result of the developmental situations they have faced. They have used violence as a way to protect themselves from the threat of getting hurt. In an article about the Effects of Youth Violence from the Teen Violence Statistics website. It focuses on why teens become violent, the effects of their violence, and possibly treatments. In this article it mentions that “teens become violent when they feel threatened acting on pure instinct.” They can feel threatened in social or academic situations as well as at home, by peers or authority figures. (Effects of Youth Violence-Teen Violence Statistics) They commonly result to using violence because risk factors they have endured with their families, their neighborhood, and their peers, such as broken homes, or social disorganization. Some believe that risk factors are personal characteristics that can predict if you are more likely to become violent. These factors also affect the youth differently based on their ages. In an article from the Journal Of Adolescent Health it explains the results of a study that shows the risk factors for violence at different ages. In the study it proved that the amount of risk factors a child is exposed to at different ages increase as the child gets older. It says “youths exposed to more than five risk factors compared to” “youth exposed to fewer than two risk factors” were seven times greater at age 10, 10 times greater at age 14 and 11 times greater at age 16. An example of one of those risk factors would be when a child goes through abuse or are neglected from their parent(s) and live in a neighborhood where there is crime, drug use, and especially violence, they are more likely to have violent behaviors. Another could be when a child goes through a parents divorce, or like discussed earlier would be bullying.
Although this violence makes it seem like it can't be stopped, there are preventative methods that can be taken to decrease it as well as help the teens that are going through it right now. In a podcast from a TED Conference, Jeffery Brown explains how his team and him cut youth violence in Boston by 79 percent. This proves that the goal of decreasing youth violence can be reached. The first step we need to take is to listen to the kids, don’t just speak at them and tell them what they need to do, help them reduce the violence around their own community, have them inspire the kids around them to do so as well. Sometimes kids are more open to change when its not the adults telling them what to do, but people their own age. Another way to help prevent youth violence was discussed by a panel of scholars from the University Of Chicago who were discussing a public policy forum. They discussed that programs need to be put in place in order to address people at different ages that are at risk for incorporating violence in their lives. It also should be based on the best evidence demonstrating effects on preventing violence, and have the most direct influence on youth at different stages of their lives. Even though programs need to be put in place to help decrease the amount of violence there is, there are also some things that everyone can do little by little to help prevent the violence. For example, teachers can be more aware of the way students are talking to each other, they can be more involved in their conversations instead of ignoring how they treat others. As a community we need to not be afraid to stand up to the bullies or violent people treating others wrongfully, instead we can tell an adult, or contact police and then the police can get those people help. We can also help teens get the counseling they need, have them get involved in sports or clubs at school, and even take them out of a threatening situation if you see it happening. A few steps in the right direction can go a long way in support of reducing the violence that youth experience on a daily basis.
Some people believe that the only reason adolescents become violent is because they learn it from their peers, or parents or role models they have in their lives, but real statistics say that the main cause of violence is because of the abuse, bullying and neglect that the teens endure throughout their lives. The effects of violence are severely detrimental to the youths mental well being and health, and while there are treatments and programs we can put in place to help those kids, we should also focus on being aware of the things going on around us in order to possibly help those kids on our own as well before it's too late.
Works Cited Page
- 'Bullying and Youth Violence.' Mental Health Information For Teens: Health Tips about Mental Wellness and Mental Illness, edited by Siva Ganesh Maharaja, 5th ed., Omnigraphics, 2017, pp. 215-219. Teen Health Series. Gale Ebooks, https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/CX7184900051/GVRL?u=j057909010&sid=GVRL&xid=9d64b5de. Accessed 20 Sept. 2019.
- “Developmental Risk Factors for Youth Violence.” Journal of Adolescent Health, Elsevier, 24 July 2000, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1054139X99000658.
- “Effects of Youth Violence.” Effects of Youth Violence - Teen Violence Statistics, http://www.teenviolencestatistics.com/content/effects-of-youth-violence.html.
- TED. “Jeffrey Brown: How We Cut Youth Violence in Boston by 79 Percent.” YouTube, YouTube, 26 May 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yeVz0rtXCmw.
- Chicago, The University of. “Preventing Youth Violence in Communities: What Does the Evidence Tell Us? | A Public Policy Forum.” YouTube, YouTube, 21 July 2011, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O3Tr9AlOIkI.