Talking To Teens About Violence
What’s It All About?
Violence affects the lives of many Washington youth and may even result in death. Youth violence may include:
- Carrying and using a weapon
- Dating violence
- Forced sexual intercourse
Why Does It Matter?
In Washington, about 60 youth, 15 to 24 years old, die each year due to homicide, and over 100 due to suicide. The Washington Attorney General released a report entitled “Bruised Inside, What Our Children Say About Youth Violence.” It points to home life and harassment as the factors that respondents believed to be key causes of youth violence. The report found that many of the tools for preventing youth violence are in the hands of parents and teens. Many youth who grow up with violence in the home use violence to solve their problems outside the home.
Here are some risk factors for youth delinquency and violence:
- Children who have been physically or sexually abused are more likely than other children to become violent teens and adults. Between 15% and 20% of 8th, 10th and 12th graders in Washington report being physically abused by an adult.
- Youth who witness domestic violence are more likely to use violence during their lifetime and are at greater risk for low self-esteem, depression, and substance abuse.
- Parents who are involved in criminal activities or abuse drugs are more likely to have violent teens.
- Bullying and “dissing” are perceived by children, parents, teachers and school administrators as major contributors to youth violence.
Kids who resist violence:
- Received a lot of attention during infancy.
- Grew up with structure and household rules during adolescence.
- Had a close knit family.
Adolescents who resist violence:
- Are protected by strong connections with families, schools, friends.
- Are protected because parents are home more frequently at key times of the day.
- Report that teachers treat them fairly, that they feel a part of the school and that other kids are not prejudiced.
- Are taught ways of dealing with conflict that don’t involve violence.
- Are more likely to report that they do not have access to guns.
Reprinted with the permission of the Department of Social and Health Services.
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