Violent Behavior in Children and Teens - Topic Overview
Violence causes more injury and death in children,
teenagers, and young adults than infectious disease, cancer, or birth
There is no single explanation for the violence caused by
youth. Many different
factors cause violent behavior in teens. The more
these factors are present in a child's life, the more likely he or she is to
commit an act of violence. Behavior will change depending on a child's age and
gender. Violent behavior may be targeted at parents, other teens, friends, or
other family members.
If you met Jordan (not his real name), you might be surprised to learn that the teen has bipolar disorder. President of his senior class and lead actor in the school play, Jordan is outgoing, popular, and a high achiever. But that wasn't always the case.
When Jordan turned 16, his mood suddenly changed. He felt irritable, angry, and extremely fatigued. When he wasn't at school, he locked himself in his bedroom, sleeping all afternoon or playing "dark" video games. His parents noticed the dramatic...
talking about a weapon, especially a firearm. Having access to a gun increases
the likelihood of teen homicide 3 times and teen suicide 5
Buying or talking about other means, such as poisons, that
could kill or harm others.
Not taking responsibility for his or her
actions or saying that the actions are justified because of how he or she has
The possibility of teen violence also increases when the
following factors are present in a teen's behavior over several weeks or
Aggressive or violent behavior
or alcohol use
Spending more time listening to music about violence or watching violent shows on TV, videos, or the internet
Gang membership or having a strong desire to become
part of a gang
Access to or a fascination with guns or other
Threatening other people
Withdrawal from friends, family, and usually pleasurable
Fear of other people (paranoia)
rejected, alone, or disrespected
Being a constant victim of
Poor school performance or attendance
problems with figures of authority
What can you do if you are worried about someone's behavior?
When you recognize warning signs of violent behavior in
someone else, there are steps you can take. Don't count on someone else to deal
with the situation. Taking action and telling someone who can help can prevent
harm to yourself and others. It also will protect another teen with potentially
violent behavior from making a mistake that will affect the rest of his or her
Don't spend time with people who show warning
signs. Tell someone you trust and respect, such as a family member, counselor,
or teacher, about your concerns and ask for help.
If you are
worried about being a victim of violence, ask someone in authority to help you.
Do not resort to violence or use a weapon
to protect yourself.
Don't try to deal with situation by yourself.
Ask for help.
Develop a safety plan to help you if you are in a
potentially dangerous situation.