Violence. It's the act of purposefully hurting someone. And it's a major issue facing today's young adults. One in 12 high schoolers is threatened or injured with a weapon each year. If you're between the ages of 12 and 24, you face the highest risk of being the victim of violence.
At the same time, statistics show that by the early 1990's the incidence of violence caused by young people reached unparalleled levels in American society.
There is no single explanation for the overall rise in youth violence. Many different factors cause violent behavior. The more these factors are present in your life, the more likely you are to commit an act of violence.
Reasons for Violence
There is never a simple answer to that question. But people often commit violence because of one or more of the following:
Expression. Some people use violence to release feelings of anger or frustration. They think there are no answers to their problems and turn to violence to express their out of control emotions.
Manipulation. Violence is used as a way to control others or get something they want.
Retaliation. Violence is used to retaliate against those who have hurt them or someone they care about.
Violence is a learned behavior. Like all learned behaviors, it can be changed. This isn't easy, though. Since there is no single cause of violence, there is no one simple solution. The best you can do is learn to recognize the warning signs of violence and to get help when you see them in your friends or yourself.
Factors that contribute to violent behavior include:
· need for attention or respect
· feelings of low self-worth
· early childhood abuse or neglect
· witnessing violence at home, in the community or in the media
· easy access to weapons
· frequent physical fighting
· significant vandalism or property damage
· increase in use of drugs or alcohol
· increase in risk-taking behavior
· detailed plans to commit acts of violence
· announcing threats or plans for hurting others
· enjoying hurting animals
· carrying a weapon
· serious drug or alcohol use
· gang membership or strong desire to be in a gang
· access to or fascination with weapons, especially guns
· threatening others regularly
· trouble controlling feelings like anger
· withdrawal from friends and usual activities
· feeling rejected or alone
· having been a victim of bullying
· poor school performance
· history of discipline problems or frequent run-ins with authority
· feeling constantly disrespected
· failing to acknowledge the feelings or rights of others
What you can do if someone you know shows violence warning signs?
Above all, be safe. Don't spend time alone with people who show warning signs. If possible without putting yourself in danger, remove the person from the situation that's setting them off.
Tell someone you trust and respect about your concerns and ask for help. This could be a family member, guidance counselor, teacher, school psychologist, coach, clergy, school resource officer or 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.
The key to really preventing violent behavior is asking an experienced
professional for help. The most important thing to remember is don't go
Dealing with Anger
Here are some ways to deal with anger without resorting to violence:
· Express yourself calmly - express criticism, disappointment, anger or displeasure without losing your temper or fighting. Ask yourself if your response is safe and reasonable.
· Listen carefully and respond without getting upset when someone gives you negative feedback. Ask yourself if you can really see the other person's point of view.
· Negotiate - work out your problems with someone else by looking at alternative solutions and compromises.
You don't have to live with the guilt, sadness and frustration that comes from hurting others.
Admitting you have a concern about hurting others is the first step.
The second is to talk to a trusted adult such as a school counselor or
psychologist, teacher, family member, friend or clergy. They can get you
in touch with a licensed mental health professional who cares and can help.
When you are angry, you probably feel:
· accelerated heartbeat
· a "knot" or "butterflies" in your stomach
· changes in your breathing
· goose bumps
· flushed in the face
· Imagine yourself at the beach, by a lake, or anywhere that makes you feel calm and peaceful.
· Try other thoughts or actions that have helped you relax in the past.
· "I don't need to prove myself."
· "I'm not going to let him/her get to me."
Violence against yourself
Like people who are violent toward others, potential suicide victims often behave in recognizable ways before they try to end their lives. Suicide, like other forms of violence, is preventable. The two most important steps in prevention are recognizing warning signs and getting help. Warning signs of potential self-violence include:
· significant alcohol or drug use
· threatening or communicating thoughts of suicide, death, dying or the afterlife
· sudden increase in moodiness, withdrawal, or isolation
· major change in eating or sleeping habits
· feelings of hopelessness, guilt or worthlessness
· poor control over behavior
· impulsive, aggressive behavior
· drop in quality of school performance or interest
· lack of interest in usual activity
· getting into trouble with authority figures
· giving away important possessions
· hinting at not being around in the future or saying good-bye
· a recent break-up with a boyfriend or girlfriend, or conflict with parents
· news reports of other suicides by young people in the same school or community
If a friend mentions suicide, take it seriously. Listen carefully, then seek help immediately. Never keep their talk of suicide a secret, even if they ask you to. Remember, you risk losing that person. Forever.
When you recognize the warning signs for suicidal behavior, do something about it. Tell a trusted adult what you have seen or heard. Get help from a licensed mental health professional as soon as possible. They can help work out the problems that seem so unsolvable but, in fact, are not.
Take a stand against violence!
Comments? E-mail Danielle at Dancedm01@yahoo.com
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