Let’s take a look at the definition of a teenager first. A teenager is a juvenile between the onset of puberty and maturity. It is the most crucial stage in a life of a human being where most of our values, manners and beliefs are formed. It means he is still a young person which is not yet fully developed. But why is he more idealistic? Why is he more liberated? Why is he more susceptible to violence?
Violent behavior is learned early in life. As an adolescent, the people who can influence him the most are his parents. He lives, eats, plays, prays and sleeps with them and there is no wonder why his relationship with his parents would directly affect him. Childhood experiences have a large chunk of what he will become in the future. What he sees in his parents would be more likely to be him when he will become an adult. Children imitate everything they see (Richmond).
Teenage violence is real. Teenagers see it on the television, hear it on the radio and even see such actual disturbing replicas on the internet games. These channels of communication brought to us by media can give them a mental picture that maybe it is “ok” to do such things especially if it is their favorite actor doing it, associating them as their role model (De Becker). It teaches them to handle their problems in the wrong way. Another big factor would be peer pressure. Teenagers spend a huge time hanging out with friends and exerting extra efforts just to get in and fit in with the gang (Germine). They let their friends talk them into something they are not; possibly let them do things they would rather not do.
The most common types of teenage violence are as follows (Catey):
Dating Violence includes threatening, pushing, shoving, name calling, hitting, threatening suicide if partner leaves and pressuring partner to have sexual contact. Teenagers should know how to detect a productive relationship from a violent one. This should be detected early on with the help of parents, teachers or doctors and should be immediately prevented whenever possible (qtd in Teen Problems 2004). Teaching them how to handle conflicts in their relationships will help them later on to manage their own romantic relationships and possibly prevent violence.
Gang Violence is very rampant in today’s generation. Every now and then we hear some news about kids shooting and rambling at school. They are everywhere, big or small, in the community as well as in school. Gangs are attractive because it provides them a sense of belongingness. According to Maslow’s, it is the 3rd level in the needs of hierarchy of a human being. Everybody needs to belong and because of this, teenagers found their own group for them to connect with. If a teenager doesn’t have a supporting and communicative family, there is a great chance that he will resort to joining gangs and fraternities (Germine). These social groups are known for the violence they create. They defend each other for the sake of one even if it means going beyond their boundaries.
All of this violence is increasing in a very alarming rate. Something needs to be done to eliminate and reduce this violence. The world has to make a way, an effort to stop, if not, to lessen these problems. The first step should start in our own backyard, the place where we established our first relationships, our home. Parents should know how to identify, observe and monitor their children’s behavior. Look for the signs. They should learn how to handle their child’s behavior just like playing with them, setting boundaries to be followed and rewarding them for a job well done (qtd in Teen Problems 2004). They should know how to be a parent as well as how to be a youngster’s best friend. If they are successful in doing child management techniques, it would most likely decrease juvenile delinquency, substance abuse and crimes which may lead to disappointment, accidents or even death.
Catey, Anne. “Teen Violence and Its Effect on Education.” Fall 2001. 07 Sept 2008.
De Becker, Gavin. “Is There One Common Reason for Teenage Violence?” 08 Sept 2008.
Germine, Mark. “Teenage Violence:Pharmacological and Psychological Perspectives.”
Dynapsych. 07 Sept 2008.
Richmond, Raymond Lloyd, Ph.D. Adolescent Violence. “A guide to Psychology and its
Practice.” 07 Sept 2008. <http://www.guidetopsychology.com/ad_viol.htm#TV>
“Teen Problems.” Parent Teen Guide, LLC. July 2004. 07 Sept 2008.
<http://www.teenagerstoday.com/articles/dating-and-sex/when-romance-rages-2951/When Romance Rages>
Types of Violence:
A second problem that teens face is the presence of gangs, not only in the community but also within the school they attend. Obviously, gangs are notorious for the violence they create. While gangs are not present in all schools in America, they have infiltrated several districts, large and small, across the country.
Why do kids join gangs? Students are attracted to gangs for several reasons. One of these reasons is that gangs provide kids with a sense of belonging. When explaining his classroom discipline model, William Glasser states that all kids have basic needs: belonging, freedom, fun, and power (Charles, 1999). If the students do not have involved loved ones, they have to satisfy their need to belong somehow (Burnett and Walz, 1994; A Parent’s Guide…, 2001). Another reason that kids look to gangs is for the excitement. Apparently, membership is a way to make money also. Members get paid to do various inappropriate or illegal acts. On the other hand, gangs also provide protection to their members. Sadly, though, teens join gangs because they are afraid not to; they then become part of the protected instead of being alone, afraid to fight against the gangs (A Parent’s Guide…, 2001).
Types of Dating Violence
Ø Name calling
Ø Threatening suicide if partner leaves
Ø Obsessive phoning or paging
Ø Extreme possessiveness
Ø Grabs, pushes, shoves, etc. (Terasys, 2001).
With these things in mind, the web site suggests that teens thoroughly examine their partners, asking several questions. For example, does the partner have a controlling attitude? In other words, is he bossy, making ALL the decisions in the relationship? Also, does he make insults in front of others? In addition, the teens are encouraged to think about the emotional state of the partner. If he shows signs of jealousy, possessiveness, suspicion, explosiveness, and impulsiveness when reacting to comments and actions, then the relationship is considered a violent one. Another gauge is to notice whether or not he manipulates situations physically. For example, if he threatens the partner with weapons, constantly fights, pressures for or forces sexual contact, or has an alcohol or substance abuse problem, the relationship is considered violent (Terasys, 2001). Knowing the above information will help teens determine the nature of a relationship.
So remember: Just as movies or music by themselves are actually unlikely to cause anyone to commit a crime, video games may not cause violence either. But for those who are predisposed to violence because of inner hurt and anger, violent movies, violent music, and violent games can combine to provide the inspiration and the skills necessary to commit a real crime.
It’s not that the television, movies, music, and games of our culture are necessarily evil in themselves—though in some cases they are—but that our attraction to them can draw us away from the good and the peaceful and push us onto the very threshold of the door to malevolence and death.
http://www.teenagerstoday.com/articles/dating-and-sex/when-romance-rages-2951/When Romance Rages
Recognizing and Preventing Teen Battering
At 17, Amy Lucas* was a quiet girl who played flute in the marching band, participated in school government and starred in several drama club productions. She also had a boyfriend named Tommy* who often slapped her, pulled her hair and once forced her to have sex with him.
“I never told anyone. Not my parents, not my sister, nor any of my friends,” says Lucas, now 23. “No one knew at all except me and Tommy.” And since his attacks usually didn’t leave any physical bruises, Lucas said it was easy to pretend everything was OK and to hide what was going on from her those who knew her best.
Unfortunately, Lucas’ story is one of many.
“About 65 percent of teens, most of whom are women, report that they have been forced to have sex with, or were hit by, a partner at some point in a relationship,” says Dr. Virginia Feldman, a pediatrician who heads the Child Abuse Team and the Family Violence Task Force in Portland, Ore.
Chances are you may know a teen that is being physically abused by a boyfriend or girlfriend. It may even be your own child.
Because adolescents often distance themselves from their parents in an effort to assert their independence, you must strive harder to recognize the signs of abuse.
Even if you do not talk together as much as you did when your child was younger, Feldman says you can still look for these signs, which may indicate he or she is involved in a physically abusive relationship:
A dramatic change in your child’s style of dress.
Bruises, scratches or other injuries, especially if the explanations for how the injuries were received are questionable.
A dip in academic performance and dropping after-school activities that used to interest him or her.
A significant other who shows excessive jealousy. This is a sign of control, Feldman says.
Spending all spare time with the boyfriend or girlfriend. This may not even be by choice; the boyfriend may be forcing your child to spend as much time as possible with him.
Pharmacological and Psychological Perspectives
Teenage and young-adult violence is a growing epidemic. Both suicide and homicide in the adolescent age group (13 to 21 years old) have risen dramatically in the past twenty years. Suicidal and homicidal behavior are closely linked in epidemiological studies, and, together, are just the tip of growing iceberg of adolescent discontent and anger. We are now seeing more and more depression in younger and younger people. The depression of the “baby boom” generation was manifested at a later age than we are now seeing, and has, in no small part, contributed to a depressed and angry societal structure into which children are born.
We tend to identify angry, violent, and aggressive adolescents as troubled individuals, and to deny that it is we, collectively, who are troubled. As mental health professionals, we try to take these troubled individuals and treat them in isolation from our troubled world. We are aghast at the outbreaks of murder in our schools, of gang violence, and of uncontrolled adolescent anger. We poor billions of dollars into police departments and prisons, yet the problems continue to grow.
The properly-functioning social system is an organism. It is an organic whole of internally-connected members who share a single, unconscious process. Reinforcement of the separate ego, which is disconnected from the unconscious, social, organic whole, leads to a dysfunctional social system in which internal and self-organizing processes are replaced the external contingencies of conditioned learning. This leads to a different kind of self-organizing system that is, fundamentally, based on violence. This is the so-called natural selection or survival model that science now holds to be the fundamental way of nature.
The organic social organism that is comprised of internally-connected members has an intelligence which guides it toward a stable and renewable future. Internal self-organization organizes the species and social groups into a collective mind system that is united on an unconscious level. The other kind of self-organizing, dynamical system, in which members are internally disconnected, and which operates on the principle of natural selection, is, by its nature, unstable. The supreme irony of social Darwinism is that, when it assumes a central role in self-organization of a social organism, it does not lead to survival, but to death or extinction.
The danger of the application of Darwinism to an organic system is seen in the case of the human body. Ordinarily, the various tissues and organs of the body function as an internally-related organic whole in which each part is constrained in its growth and function through its relation to the whole. If a particular cell line develops outside of the constraint, it will cease to function as a part of the organism and will grow at the expense of the other tissues. This cell line will become a cancerous tumor, invade the surrounding tissues, spread throughout the organism, and kill the organism, as well as itself.
The collective mind of the Darwinian social organism is at odds with itself. Its members fight among one another to secure more for themselves. Human beings then degenerate to the sub-organic level, where aggression no longer serves a biological purpose. Paradoxically, aggression comes to the foreground of our emotional constitutions through the conscious denial of our own aggressive and violent behavior within the dysfunctional social system. This is an example of the principle of conscious/unconscious complementarity. Emotions have an unconscious origin, and so, very often, we hold within us those emotions which we suppress from our consciousness.
This unconscious structure of anger and aggression is collective. We talk about peace and cooperation but practice emotional violence and exercise an unconscious malice. This is the setting of societal violence.
We seek to solve the problem of teenage violence by making explicitly violent adolescents into implicitly violent adults. Teenage violence thus becomes a kind of rite of passage, a boot camp for a violent society. Very often, our solutions are part of the problem. Our educational system is competitive and achievement oriented. We’ve created a competitive collective mentality that is a thin veil for the violence that we are breeding into our children.
We violate our children with our expectations. We violate their deep need to be part of an organic whole when we educate them to succeed in the Darwinian social system. We create a class of “Olympians” in both physical and mental education. We emotionally disenfranchise those children that do not or can not achieve the standards of our own, collective, competitive calling. This is the root cause of teenage violence.
Our violent teens are failures. Some are failures to achieve, due to learning problems, lack of physical prowess, or “emotional problems.” Others are failures to “fit in” to an inhuman social structure. We label them failures, implicitly, and then wonder why they are angry and discontent. We tell them that they are not good enough, hold before them the bleak prospects of a future that is not good enough, and then send them to counselors to learn self-esteem and positive thinking. We disengage them from society, and then wonder why they are antisocial.
Is There One Common Reason for Teenage Violence?
Family Safety Expert Advice from Gavin de Becker
Question: What is the number one, most common reason for teenage violence?
Answer: I have found that identifying any single or leading cause for human behavior is counter-productive. While we can discuss a single feature in a person’s history that encourages violence, the reality is that all the factors exercise influence on people together.
For teenagers, these include, not surprisingly, experiencing and/or witnessing violence as children, and the influence of media that depicts violence and revenge as admirable ways to resolve problems.
The media makes heroes out of those who use violence. Local TV-news shows frighten people with a constant diet of stories about victimization. Other factors include our shockingly abundant harvest of guns (20,000 enter the stream of commerce every day), the absence of participating fathers, and on and on.
Violence is the result of a recipe of influences, mixed together in context. Violence is part of the species, and the search for one ingredient that is dominant — one thing we can blame, one thing we can change — is a wasted effort. Teenage boys, in particular, are highly sensitive to shame, so challenges to their identity and anything that might reduce their status — humiliation, threats to their rank among peers, etc. — are high on the list. Every culture in history has used teenage boys to do its killing.
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