ROBERT M. NEWELL, PH.D.
FORENSIC AND CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY
Specializing in Behavioral Healthcare for Children &
Adolescents, Families, Couples, and Adults.
WHAT EVERY PARENT NEEDS TO KNOW ABOUT
Youth violence has reached an unprecedented level in American society, and is a major issue facing today’s teenagers. Research shows that one out of 12 high school children is either threatened with, or injured by, a weapon every year. Young people between the ages of 12 and 24 are at the highest risk for becoming a victim of violence.
Violence is the act of intentionally causing harm to another person. Violence is a multifaceted behavior, and involves a number of different factors. Although there is no single explanation for why a person commits an act of violence such as hitting, kicking, stabbing, or shooting another person, there are a number of different reasons.
Reasons People Commit Violence
People often commit physical violence for one of more of the following reasons:
· To Express Feelings: Some people use violence to release feelings of anger or frustration. Instead of expressing their feelings in a healthy way, they act out their emotions.
· To Control Others: Physical violence is often used to influence other people’s behavior, or to achieve a specific objective.
· To Retaliate: Violence is used to retaliate against other people who are perceived to have committed some type of wrong.
Because there is no single cause of violence, there is no simple solution. The best that you can do is to learn to recognize the warning signs of violence, and to get help when you see them displayed by others.
The Risk Factors and Warning Signs of Potential Violence
Here are some warning signs or factors that place a person at risk for becoming violent:
· A history of violent or aggressive behavior
· A history of serious drug and/or alcohol use
· A history of early childhood neglect or abuse
· Gang membership or a strong desire to be a member of a gang
· A fascination with weapons—especially with guns
· Make threats to commit violence
· Has trouble controlling feelings of anger
· Withdraws from friends and usual activities
· Feels rejected and disrespected by others
· Feels worthless or has low self-esteem
· Has been a victim of bullying
· Poor school performance
· A history of discipline problems or frequent problems with authority figures
· Shows a disregard for the rights of others
· Access to weapons
The greater the number of risk factors that are present, the greater the likelihood that a person will engage in an act of violence.
Here are the immediate warning signs that a person soon may become violent:
· Frequently loses his temper and displays outbursts of anger
· Frequently gets into physical fights
· Commits significant acts of destruction of property
· Displays an increase in the use of drugs and/or alcohol
· Displays an increase in risk-taking behavior
· Makes detailed plans to commit an act of violence
· Makes threats to harms others, or announces having a plan to hurt others
· Displays acts of physical violence toward animals
· Possesses a weapon
What You Can Do if Someone You Know Shows the Warning Signs of Violence
When you recognize the warning signs of violence in another person, there is something you can do besides just hope that someone else will deal with the situation. Here’s what you can do:
· Keep yourself safe. Do not spend time alone with anyone who displays the warning signs of violence.
· If you can do it in a safe way, get the person away from the situation that’s making them angry.
· Tell someone you trust about your concerns and ask for them to help you. This could be a family member, school counselor, teacher, school psychologist, coach, clergy, or a friend.
· If you are worried about being a victim of violence, get someone in authority to protect you. Do not resort to violence or use a weapon to protect yourself.
· Seek the help of an experienced professional. Do not attempt to deal with the problem on your own.
DR. ROBERT M. NEWELL
Copyright © 2004-2007 Robert M. Newell, Ph.D. All rights reserved.