Every time I turn on the T.V., it seems the news is inundated with stories of crime and violence. But what is really disturbing (to me) is that more and more of this crime is being committed by teenagers. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), an average of 15 teens are killed everyday, usually with firearms, and 750,000 teens are treated in ERs in the United States for violence-related injuries each year.
- A CDC study of high school students found that 33% had been in a physical fight.
- 17% reported taking a weapon to school in the previous 30 days.
- 15-25% experience bullying each year.
- In 2000, 9% of the murders in the U.S. were committed by persons under the age of 18.
- 1 in 10 teens arrested had been engaged in a violent activity that could have resulted in serious injury or death of another person.
Teen violence can include fighting, threatening, and bullying. There has also been a rise in suicide, which is violence against oneself:
- Suicide is the third leading cause of death among teens.
- Over the past year, 1 in 11 high school students admit to having made a suicide attempt.
Teen violence also includes self-injury, which is another form of self-violence.
- Involvement in gangs
- Low parental involvement
- Discipline that is inconsistent, lax or too harsh
- Use of drugs or alcohol by teen or parents
- A history of violence at home
- Emotional problems
- Injuring animals
- Exposure to media violence
- Poor performance in school
- Experiencing bullying or teasing
- Antisocial behaviors, attitudes, and beliefs
- Aggressive behavior in early development
- Poor teen supervision
- Low emotional attachment to guardian or parents
- Delinquent friends
- Having easy access to weapons (guns, knives, etc.)
Please understand, this long list of risk factors does not necessarily cause teen violence, but they place teens in situations where they are more likely to be offenders or victims of violence.
AT RISK GROUPS (FOR TEEN VIOLENCE):
- For African-American youth, homicide is the leading cause of death.
- Hispanics experience homicide as the second leading cause of death among youth.
- The male rate for youth homicide in 2003 was 86%, as opposed to 14% for females.
- Male teens (41%) are more likely to be in a physical fight than female teenagers (25%).
- 12% of female teens are more likely to be forced into having sexual intercourse, a form of date violence, than males at 6%.
CONSEQUENCES OF TEEN VIOLENCE:
- Total direct and indirect costs of teen violence is more than $158 billion per year.
- Nationwide, 6% of teens missed school due to feelings of insecurity regarding being at school or traveling to and from school.
- Healthcare costs increase in communities with teen violence.
- Costs arise from injury and death, such as medical care and funeral expenses.
- Decreasing property values affect areas with high incidents of teen violence, impacting both long-time residents and new residents.
TEEN VIOLENCE AND VIDEO GAMES:
- Violent media, including video games, can increase thoughts of violence in teenagers.
- Suspicions of others' motives increase due to playing video games.
- Teens who spend more time playing video games are more likely to argue with others than teens who do not spend as much time playing violent video games.
- Teens who play violent games act aggressive soon after playing.
WHAT CAN PARENTS DO?
- Talk to your teen and LISTEN to their concerns.
- Know where your teen goes, what he/she does, and who he/she is with.
- Be consistent and firm, but not to harsh, in your discipline.
- Discourage involvement with gangs (talk to local police to find out more about gangs in your area).
- Encourage positive activities, such as in-school or church involvement.
- Teach the importance of a good education.
- Monitor and control your teen's exposure to violence, including T.V., movies, video games, music, etc.
- Get help for your teen if he/she has alcohol or drug problems.
If you notice extreme anger outbursts in your teen, consider first getting a physical for your teen to make sure there is nothing physically wrong, and then look into getting counseling for your teen to help get to the bottom of what is causing this anger, because it will only get worse.