A holistic analysis of rising violence in youth
The prevalence of violent behaviors in humans is as old as the inception of human civilizations. Violence has always been one of the dark facades of humanity and has gone unnoticed most of the time. However, nowadays owing to certain factors like increasing frustration and mental health disorders in humans, violence is at its apex. Furthermore, as youngsters are not very mature when it comes to controlling anger or peer pressure, violent tendencies in them are at their pinnacle too. Youth violence and its consequences threaten the idea of peace and security within civil societies. Youth violence has become a major driving factor in the hike in crime rates in almost all nations. As the term suggests, youth violence involves children, adolescents, teenagers, and young adults in aggressive acts. In fact, youth violence is the use of aggression or brutality among people aged between 10 and 24 years of age. Besides, it is important to note here that in youth violence, youngsters can either be the victim or the culprit or both.
This essay establishes a better comprehension of youth violence including its impact and causes. Also, the essay illustrates the various types of violent acts that youngsters involve themselves in. After analyzing the reasons for violence in youth, the essay also offers strategic solutions to battle this social evil and once again promote peaceful behaviors in youngsters. So, next, there is a holistic view of youth violence supported by some crucial figures.
What is youth violence?
To substantiate, brutal acts like verbal abuse, physical assault, bullying, slapping, fistfighting, and so on fall under the category of youth violence. Therefore, all incidents which involve such violent acts and have youngsters involved either as perpetrators or sufferers are included in youth violence. Furthermore, even heinous crimes like homicide, rapes, robbery, sexual assault, and abuse are instances of youth violence when they are committed by or against youth. There can be different causes leading to such behaviors in young adults. In terms of criminology, different perpetrators may have different motives to commit an act of violence. At present, increasingly violent behaviors among teenagers and adolescents pose a major challenge to civil societies. The growing tendency in youth to resort to violence is also responsible for the mounting crime rates of different nations. Moving ahead, some vital statistics on youth violence can build a better understanding of the gravity of the issue.
Some alarming youth violence statistics
According to the World Health Organization, youth violence is not only a social problem but also a major health problem. More than 40 percent of the total number of homicides around the globe each year occur in the age group 10-29 years of age. To state it in numbers, more than 200,000 acts of murder take place each year among youngsters. In fact, homicide is the fourth major reason for deaths in this age group. Talking about acts of violence against young women, more than 20 percent of females state that their first sexual experience was an act of force committed against them.("Youth violence", 2020)
Probing further, as per United Nations Women, three in every four victims of child trafficking are young girls. More than 15 million adolescent girls between 15 and 19 years of age have been victims of forced sex. To add, one in three students at school have faced bullying before the age of 16. Further, as per the figures compiled by the US Department of Justice, in 2017, there were more than 809,700 juvenile arrests made by US law enforcement agencies. Most of these juveniles were arrested in cases of aggravated assault, homicide, and robbery.(2020)
To continue, the problem of youth violence is not restricted to just two or three nations. It is a common global challenge that the world is facing and needs to address with immediate effect. The above statistics indicate that there is a wide prevalence of violence in youth and the numbers may rise in the coming years. Also, these days the instances of psychological health disorders in young people are increasing. These disorders can lead to the emergence of criminal psychology in the mindsets of youngsters. Hence, it can further lead to a revision of these already worrisome figures in the upward direction. To understand the issue better, the next section explains the different types of violence that exist among youngsters.
Types of youth violence
Based on different approaches, there can be different classifications of violence among youngsters.
The first categorization of violent acts involving youngsters is on the basis of who the victims or the perpetrators are. According to this classification, youth violence can be categorized into the following three types
- Self-directed violence
- Interpersonal violence
- Collective violence
To begin with, self-directed violence is the infliction of violent acts by a person on his own self. To elaborate, these acts include suicidal behaviors and self-abuse. A person who indulges in self-directed violence commits acts like mutilation, suicide attempts, and other acts involving self-harm. Secondly, interpersonal violence occurs when there is violence between individuals or members of the same family or community. Acts like homicides, robbery, rapes, and physical assaults are common examples of interpersonal violence. At last, collective violence includes acts of violence that are directed against groups and are inspired by social, political, or economic reasons.
The next arrangement of violent acts among youth is based on the nature of acts that are inflicted by or on youngsters. This classification broadly includes the following types of youth violence
- Physical violence
- Sexual violence
- Psychological violence
At the onset, physical violence is the intended use of physical force with the motive to cause harm or injury. Further, the use of physical force against a person can lead to psychological effects in the victim’s mind. For instance, regular physical assault on a child cannot only lead to chronic physical damage but can also cause serious mental disorders. Moreover, sexual violence is an act of penetration or molestation against the consent of the victim. It is worth noting here that sexual acts committed as well as attempted against the consent of a person are instances of sexual violence. In fact, a person forcing the other person to get involved in a sexual act with a third person is also an act of sexual violence. Further, acts of sexual touch or non-contact sexual gestures breaching the consent of the other person are also forms of sexual violence. In most cases, sexual violence also involves physical violence and chronic traumas in the minds of the victims.
Thirdly, psychological violence is violence through verbal or non-verbal communication that is aimed at exploiting or abusing the mental or emotional state of the victim. Youngsters or adults also resort to this form of violence to exert dominance over the other person’s mental state. Besides, psychological violence can also include threats of sexual or physical violence.("What is violence?", 2020)
Now, after comprehending the different kinds of youth violence, the subsequent section draws attention to the causes of youth violence. An insight into the causes can enable a better analysis of the issue and can lead to more practical and relevant solutions. In youngsters, different acts of violence may be influenced by different psychological reasons or occurrences in their surroundings. Youngsters can pick violent behaviors from what they see or hear around them. To add, often young people do not have the maturity to differentiate between positive and negative influences. Listed below are the leading causes of aggressive or violent behavior in adolescents and young adults.
Principal causes of youth violence
One of the leading causes of aggression in youngsters is the influence of the media. As per researchers, the violent content or news broadcasted by the media has a direct impact on the minds of young people and instigates them to act violently. The second major cause of brutality in young people is linked to stress or mental illness. There are various causes of stress that youngsters have to negate on a daily basis to maintain tranquility. Mental traumas or disorders like hyperactivity disorders, bipolar disorders, and conduct disorders can provoke violence in teenagers. Besides, depression is another severe mental health issue that is commonly found in youngsters nowadays. More than 264 million people of all ages suffer from depression all over the globe. This indicates how widespread this mental health disorder is and how the various challenges of life make the youth susceptible to mental illness. It is critical to note that people suffering from depression are very likely to have suicidal tendencies or tendencies to cause self-harm.
Moreover, drug abuse and alcohol abuse are also among the primary reasons for violence in youth. Consumption of alcohol or drugs promotes aggression and the reduction of fear in individuals. This is why drug abuse has always been associated with violent behaviors. As per the World Health Organization too, there is a correlation between alcohol and behavioral disorders. Probing further, peer pressure is another major cause of violent behaviors in young people. Youngsters are often influenced by their peers or the groups of people they spend their time with. Thus, when other members of the group engage in risky activities, there is intense peer pressure on an individual to engage in the same act. To add, lack of supervision by parents and their unavailability to share good ethics with their wards is another common reason why youngsters involve themselves in unethical behaviors. Parents have the responsibility to incorporate good values in their children and also to be available so that their children can share their feelings with them. When parents fail to do so, it is likely that the child can come under immense mental stress or may fall into bad company.
Other common causes of youth violence include domestic violence, child abuse, traumas of victimization, the influence of community or neighbors, and the influence of wrong role models. It happens often that people who have been victims of brutality or traumatic events develop post-traumatic stress disorders. These disorders can further instigate violence in young people. Next, it is vital to underline some pragmatic solutions to eradicate occurrences of youth violence.
Practical solutions to resolve the violence in youth
The responsibility to mitigate the prevalence of violence in youngsters should be shared at all levels. Individuals, communities, governments, and nations should come together to play an active role in this direction. Further, parents and educators need to play more proactive roles to identify and eliminate violent behaviors in children. The most common solutions to youth violence include the below recommendations and actions.
What governments can do
Devise stringent policies against the trade and consumption of drugs
Make arrangements to reduce youngsters’ access to alcohol and other intoxicating substances
Make strong gun control laws and restrict firearm licensing
Provide more job opportunities to youngsters and better amenities in underdeveloped areas
Revise the laws on rapes, child abuse, and sexual assault to make them stricter
Begin social development programs in collaboration with schools to help adolescents manage their anger
What schools can do
Include the prevention of violence in education
Initiate pre-schooling programs to impart knowledge of life skills to children at an early age
Launch programs for parents to learn essential parenting skills
Make counseling access available to students suffering from mental health issues
Include the grave consequences of violence on individuals and society in the curriculum
What individuals and community can do
Check on each other’s mental health
Set good examples for individuals
Eradicate the stigmas around depression and mental illness
Initiate awareness campaigns about bullying and child abuse
Supervise children and their peer groups
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The direct correlation between increasing youth depression and violence
Nowadays it is common to come across the news on youth violence on a daily basis in the US as well as other parts of the world. Every day scores of youngsters either inflict violence through different acts or fall prey to such acts. Moreover, the instances of depression and anxiety in young children have increased manifold in the past few years. DIfferent research organizations including the World Health Organization suggest that depression can lead to suicidal tendencies. Besides, depression can also lead to provocation of aggression and different violent behaviors in youth. Therefore, there seems to be a direct correlation between depression or mental illness and the exhibition of violence in the behavior of youngsters. Depression may not be the only leading cause of youth violence but it certainly is one of the prime factors. In the subsequent paragraphs, this essay delves deeper into the role of depression in widespread youth violence.
All human beings are emotionally vulnerable and are equally likely to feel emotional stress at times. However, depression is a lot different from fluctuations in mood or short-lived emotional reactions. Depression is a form of mental illness that can be chronic and can reach a severe intensity in some individuals. To simply define, depression is a disorder of mental health that is characterized by prolonged depressed mood or absence of interest in day to day activities. Talking about the causes of depression, they can vary between various psychological or social origins of distress. To add, a person suffering from depression can also contract other health risks and fatal diseases. In fact, depression is the leading cause of suicide in youngsters that is a form of self-imposed violence. More than 800,000 people die each year because of suicides and it is the second major cause for deaths in the 15-29 age group. Moreover, youth violence is defined as the intended use of physical force or dominance to threaten, harm, or molest others by youngsters between 10 and 24 years of age. The acts of youth violence include homicides, rapes, physical assault, sexual assault, bullying, self-harm, and other kinds of physical or sexual violence. Besides, violence in youngsters can also be psychological with the intention of taking control of someone’s emotional or mental state. Now, because depression is very common in this age group of 10-24, there is a direct relationship between it and violence in youth.
Probing further, there is research-based evidence that shows the contribution of teen depression is an increased risk of violence in youngsters. A journal by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry recommends that depression hikes the risk of violence. The research discovered that around 7 percent of depressed people in Finland were convicted of one or more violent criminal acts. On the other hand, this percentage was around 3.5 percent in people who did not have depression. So, it is well established that individuals or youngsters battling depression are far more likely to indulge in violence. Furthermore, in juvenile detention centers, one in every ten boys is depressed while one in every three girls is suffering from it. This research is fundamental in proving two imperative aspects related to depression and mental illness. On one hand, it highlights the consequences of undetected depression on teenagers and adolescents. Besides, it backs the assertion that depression can lead to violent behaviors in youth.("Teen depression increases risk for violence: These findings emphasize the need for early detection and intervention", 2020)
Besides, violence in youngsters can also be psychological with the intention of taking control of someone’s emotional or mental state. Now, depression can be a cause as well as a consequence of youth violence. For instance, a depressed person can commit a criminal act like assault or rape because of violent behavior instigated by mental illness. Further, such an act inflicted on a person can lead to trauma and intense stress hence pushing the victim into depression. Therefore an act of violence can be provoked from depression and also lead the victim to chronic depression. It is for real that violent acts like sexual harassment or bullying can cause post-traumatic stress disorders in young victims. So, it is vital that the responses to youth violence should also include collective responses to depression.
Talking about solutions, all nations, as well as international organizations, now identify youth violence as a major threat to social harmony. Governments should realize that resolving the peculiar problem of depression in young people is also a key measure in the direction of mitigating youth violence. In addition to making the gun laws more stringent and checking the consumption of drugs and alcohol in youth, providing efficient help to depressed youngsters is also vital. In most cases, depression in youngsters or children goes undiagnosed or youngsters do not want to speak out. This is the case because, in most civil societies, there still exists a stigma around mental illness. People suffering from depression do not confide in others including even their own parents to share their feelings and deplorable states of mind. Thus, depression when remains undetected or untreated, leads to the instigation of violence and outrage. Therefore, when governments make practical policies to resolve youth violence, they should also include mental health assistance as a key factor. Governments and schools should provide counseling and social development assistance to students. By doing so, one of the leading causes of youth violence can be negated. In addition parents and society should accept that mental illness is a real issue and various sorts of burdens on children can deteriorate their mental health beyond repair.
To sum it up, it can be concluded that depression is one of the leading factors in rising youth violence. Depression in youngsters can provoke unusual behaviors that can be harmful to them and others. Further, violent acts like sexual abuse, rapes, and homicides are on the rise. In some cases, depression may be the driving force between these heinous crimes. Therefore, in the wake of the rising violence in youth, there is a larger need to address the problems of depression and other mental disorders. If society can be more accepting of mental health issues, those who have depression can be helped at the early stages. In this way, a large proportion of violent acts involving young culprits can be averted.
To encapsulate, youth violence is a big concern for the entire world and is adding to crime rates immensely. Further, there are some credible statistics that highlight the gravity of the issue and call for stern steps to be taken to uproot the various causes of youth violence. Alcoholism, drug abuse, absence of supervision, depression, the influence of violent content, pressure from peer groups, and victimization are among the common reasons for youth violence. However, despite the peculiarity of the issue, with practical and thoughtful measures the world can defeat it. Individuals and communities should share responsibilities at various levels to help the world win a battle over youth violence. By guiding the youngsters in the right direction and facilitating them with platforms to seek mental help a major part of the problem can be solved. It is high time that the psychological aspects behind physical or sexual violence are paid more attention to.
- Youth violence. (2020). Retrieved 30 November 2020, from https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/youth-violence
- (2020). Retrieved 30 November 2020, from https://ojjdp.ojp.gov/sites/g/files/xyckuh176/files/pubs/252713.pdf
- What is violence?. (2020). Retrieved 1 December 2020, from https://www.saferspaces.org.za/understand/entry/what-is-violence