With another unfortunate and saddening school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut which left 27 families without a loved one, we are reminded once again to look at and be thankful for the safety of our children. As we send our heartfelt thoughts to those affected by this tragedy, we must also look into our own schools and the violence in our teens’ lives.
While we are fortunate that these fatal tragedies don’t happen daily, there is a great deal of violence in our schools that goes nearly unmentioned and unattended to. A recent study from Duke University found that until 2010, more teens were threatened than actually injured, however, these trends have now merged so that both threats and injuries occur at the same level. In a given year there are 1.7 million nonfatal crimes committed at schools, ranging from assault to theft. About one-third of students age 12 and up are the victims of school bullying. Of this bullying, middle schools appear to have the highest rates of bullying with nearly 43% of students reporting being bullied.
There are many factors that contribute to teen violence.
- The increased accessibility to violence that comes with access to a computer and television appears to have a large influence on teens. A study reported in 2008 found that teens and preteens aged 10 – 15 who were frequent visitors to websites that included depictions of violence by real people, were five times more likely to report that they themselves had engaged in violent behavior than were young people of the same age who did not visit such websites. Today teens spend a great deal of time with computers, phones, televisions and video games. While these all seem like harmless devices it is important to remember that too much exposure can lead to increased violence in teens.
- Another reason teens engage in violent behavior is to improve and maintain their social status. Studies show that young people who want to be better appreciated and respected within their group are the most likely to be violent. Violence appears to maintain social status by intimidating other students and lowering others self-confidence. This violence can in turn increase violence within the school because those who experience bullying or teasing may become enraged enough to begin acting out in revenge and engage in violence themselves.
- Lastly, teen violence can be caused by frustration due to learning disorders, emotional distress, or attention deficits. In some cases teens do not know how to appropriately channel their frustrations and act out in anger as a form of release.
As we learn more about the factors leading up to violence in our teens, it is important to take steps to prevent such horrific crimes from happening within the safety of our schools and within our community.
- Monitoring and limiting our children’s exposure to violence in movies and television, on the internet and in video games is important to decreasing rates of violence.
- Another key factor in reducing violence amongst our teens is to ensure that teens are not exposed to violence within the home. A teen growing up with their mother being abused will more likely be a violent teenager and adult, than a teen that grows up in a loving home. Creating a home environment of respect and courtesy teaches children how to respect one another and teaches them to consider the feelings of others.
- Lastly, a great way to reduce teen violence is to stay involved in the lives of our teens. Keeping open communication allows teens to express their feelings in more appropriate ways. Involvement also permits us to notice warning signs of violence including increased seclusion and poor behavior. It is important that we speak with our teens and offer our support.
Violence is preventable and with effort and involvement, we can reduce tragedies such as this weekend’s occurring.
Teen Violence Statistics http://www.teenviolencestatistics.com/content/media-and-teen-violence.html