According to the CDC, youth violence occurs when there is an intentional use of force or power to injure others. The age of those who are among the perpetrators, victims or witnesses of this violence is between the ages of 14-24. The good news is that youth violence is preventable!! According to Janet Benavente from Colorado State University, researchers agree on prevention resources for youth violence:
- Youth violence is learned and can be unlearned.
- Youth should be part of the solution for preventing violence.
- Because violence is such a complex issue, it requires a comprehensive and multifaceted approach.
- Partnerships and collaborations work more effectively than individual efforts.
In addition, the CDC recognizes that universal school-wide prevention approaches have the best success rate of reducing violence and other risk behaviors in youth.
Why, as school counselors, should we be concerned with youth violence? According to the CDC, youth violence is the third leading cause of death among youth ages 14-24. Some staggering facts from the CDC include…
- 1 out of 4 high school students were in a fight in the past year.
- The number of youths involved in a homicide would fill 87 school buses.
- The number of youths requiring medical attention would fill up 9 stadiums.
- 7% of youths were threatened with a weapon.
- 1 out of 5 high school students were bullied at school and 1 out of 6 were bullied online.
- 7% of students did not go to school due to safety concerns.
- Medical care and lost wages due to youth violence exceeds $17.5 billion or enough money to put 271,000 students through college! Think how many counselors could be hired with that amount of money!!!
Contributing Factors to Youth Violence
Since there are many factors that contribute to youth violence, sometimes it is difficult to determine which factor(s) will influence aggression. There are four major factors that impact brutality among teens.
- Individual factors include past exposure to violence, impulsiveness, poor school achievement, and poor problem solving skills.
- Relationship factors consist of peer delinquency, family conflict, and poor parental supervision.
- Community factors are homelessness or frequent moving by the family, weak economy, gang activity, and crime.
- Societal concerns include acceptable norms of violence, limited education, and limited economic opportunities.
Although there are many risk factors for youth violence, there are also many protective factors that prevent violence among youth as well.
Some of these protective factors include:
Perceived sanctions for misbehavior
Warm and caring family
Commitment to school
Recognition for involvement in conventional activities
Peers who participate in conventional activities
Youth Violence Awareness
How as school counselors can we expand these preventive factors in school? Each year, Students Against Violence Everywhere or SAVE coordinates an awareness campaign to reduce youth violence in schools. This year, SAVE has chosen a different theme for each day of National Youth Violence Awareness (March 23-27).
Day 1: Promote Respect and Tolerance
Day 2: Manger Your Anger
Day 3: Resolve Conflicts Peacefully
Day 4: Support Safety
Day 5: Unite in Action
National Youth Violence Awareness Month Activities
Think about hosting a youth violence awareness week. If you want to extend your violence awareness program for the entire month, I have attached other violence awareness topics and 75 different resources to help you educate students, parents, and staff in your school!! Feel free to share any ideas and I will post them on my blog!
Other Violence Awareness Topics
Active Shooter Awareness
Sexual and Dating Violence
State Safe School Resources