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It seems with startling frequency there is a school shooting or other violent act committed by a teen. If you’re a parent, you may wonder how a teen’s behavior escalates into committing a criminal act. Teen violence can be a complex issue. There are lots of reasons teenagers become violent, and the solution often has to be multifaceted.
Reasons Teens Become Violent
Determining what causes teen violence is not as easy as pointing to a certain video game or violent movies. While gun control is a hot topic, teens also commit violent acts without guns in a large percentage of the cases.
Violence in teens may occur in several forms, such as an assault on a stranger, fighting among peers, bullying and dating violence. Although the cause of teen violence may not be one specific factor, there are some theories as to why some young people become so upset they lash out in a violent manner.
One theory is that teenagers may model the behavior they see. While playing violent video games is most likely not going to cause a young person to become aggressive, it could be a contributing factor if a child is already unstable. It’s more likely that if the behavior is modeled it’s from the teen’s real life and not from TV or video games. For instance, children who were abused are more likely to become violent themselves.
There are also several other reasons some teens may become violent. For example, teens may lash out due to frustration caused by emotional problems, learning delays and problems at school or home. Some kids who were victims of bullying may have pent up anger, which causes them to have a violent outburst.
Dating Violence; What Parents Should Know
When you think of domestic violence, you may think of two adult partners. Unfortunately, teen dating violence has also become an issue. Similar to adult relationships, teens who use violence in a relationship do so to gain control over their partner.
It’s often difficult for teen victims of dating violence to seek help. The relationship is often the teen’s first experience with a romantic relationship. In addition, teens are dating younger than in past generations, which may mean they are even less emotionally equipped to deal with relationship conflicts.
According to data from the Bureau of Justice, about 30 percent of high school girls report being in a dating relationship that became abusive. Abusive behavior in teen relationships may include emotional, sexual or physical abusive. In many cases, teens who are being hurt, do not tell anyone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 30 percent of teens who are in an abusive dating relationship don’t tell someone.
Parents may not want to accept that their child could be abusive to their boyfriend/girlfriend, but it’s important to recognize signs. For example, if you notice your child showing controlling behavior towards their partner, such as telling them who they can talk to or what they can wear, it’s a red flag.
If you think your teen may be abusive, it’s important to deal with the situation upfront. Talk with your teen and explain how possessive or controlling behavior is wrong. Model appropriate behavior towards your partner and hold your child accountable for their actions. Don’t hesitate to get professional help.