Violence amongst the young people is amongst the most visible types of violence in today’s society. Even though violence affects individuals of all ages notwithstanding their race, socioeconomic status, religion or ethnicity; violence extremely affects the young people. Youth violence can be described as harmful conduct that starts early in an individual’s life and continues into young adulthood. In relation to this violence, a youth can be a victim, a perpetrator, or a witness. Some conducts that explain violence among the youth include slapping, bullying, and hitting. These conducts, even though they are physical, they tend to cause more emotional harm than physical harm. Other extreme violent conducts among the youth may include assault and robbery with weapons or without weapons; and these can cause death or serious injuries to the victim, the perpetrator or the witness. Homicides and the non-fatal violence that involve the youth have contributed greatly to the worldwide encumbrance of issues including injuries, disabilities and premature deaths.
Background of the Problem
Youth violence is prevalent in poor and in rich countries such as the United States of America. In the years 2000, approximately 199,000 youth homicides were reported worldwide. In the U.S, youth violence is the second contributor of death for young people around the ages of 10 to 24 years. In 2007, it was reported that approximately 5,764 young people between this age bracket were murdered; at an average of 16 young people per day. In 2008, injuries of more that 656,000 young people age 10 between the ages of 10 to 24 who had been physical assaulted were treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms. Youth violence problem cannot be looked at separately from other problematic conducts. Throughout the world, youth violence including homicides rates is considerably low amongst young females compared to the young males. Thus, being a male is a strong demographic risk factor of youth violence.
Violent youths tend to commit many other crimes and they also display other problems including substance abuse, truancy and quitting of school, habitual deceit, irresponsible driving and sexually transmitted diseases rates. Young people who have witnesses violence in their home and neighborhoods or those who have been sexually or physically abused, may be conditioned to view violence as an acceptable way of resolving issues. Continued exposure to armed fighting also contributes to youths’ general culture of terror that heightens incidences of violence. Thus, understanding all factors that add to the risk of youths being victims or perpetrating violence is fundamental for governments and the society to develop effective programs and policies that can stop this vice.
Solutions to Youth Violence
In order to formulate programs and policies that prevent youth violence, the individual perceptive, social and behavioral factors, and social systems should be addressed. Governments and the society should focus both on programs that deal with individual youths as well as those that involve groups of youths or the society at large in order to curb the problem of youth violence. Since most youth violence begins at childhood, some of the prevention mechanism should be suitable for childhood stages. Such strategies include adopting preschool enrichment programs that introduce the young children to the necessary skills that foster success in school early enough. These programs therefore increase the probability of these youngsters to have future academic success.
Another strategy could include social development programs that reduce violence, antisocial and aggressive conducts in young children and adolescents through the adoption of various approaches. Some of the approaches that social development programs use include bettering the proficiency and social skills of young people with their peers and encouraging positive conduct of friendliness and cooperation. These programs help young people to manage their anger; develop their morals; and resolve social problems and conflicts amicably. Other strategies include introduction of academic improvement programs and incentives for young people who are at high risk for violence. The programs and incentives enhance the probability of these youths to complete high schooling and even pursue higher education.
Governments can also encourage vocational training programs for the underprivileged young people in order to increase independence and eliminate idleness. Influencing the kind of relationships that the youths establish with others people that they regularly interact with can also eradicate youth violence. This is because; the pressures that young people get from their peers can either make or break them. Another strategy of preventing youth violence is family-based and involves interventions through home visitations which can be done at all ages beginning at infancy. Some countries including Thailand, South Africa and the United States have embraced this approach where social workers offer training, counseling, support, supervision and recommendations for disadvantaged mothers; for families with higher risk of abusing children; and for families who are expecting or who have recently had their first child. This enables the mothers to bring up their children in a better way and teach them the dangers of violence.
The skill training programs on parenting also improve family relations and techniques of rearing children, consequently reducing youth violence. The programs achieve this by improving emotional bonding between youngsters and their parents; by helping parents to use reliable child-rearing techniques and helping children to develop self-control in rearing their children. Countries that have embraced this strategy include Australia, which has the Triple-P-Positive Parenting Program which uses a population-based media movement to get to parents, and a health care component for consulting with primary care physicians and improving parenting skills.
Mentoring programs are another great strategy that has shown great impact in preventing youth violence. Mentoring programs are designed for individuals and they aim at helping the young people to establish supportive relationships positive adult role models as the mentors. These mentors may be teachers, counselors, police officers or respectable community members. Such programs help the youth in developing skills, trustful and sustainable relationship with a person who they regard as their positive role model and guide. At times, therapeutic approaches have been used to prevent youth violence through improving interactions and communication between children and parents.
These programs are designed for all, that is, the young people, their parents and the community in order to teach them how to resolve problems when they arise. The therapeutic approach also helps families handle environmental factors that contribute to youths’ antisocial conducts and violence and encourage the youths to make better use of community resources. Although therapy programs are expensive, they can improve functioning within the family and the society and reduce behavioral issues among young children. An example of such as therapeutic approach is the Multisystemic Therapy approach used in the United States.
Information concerning the prevention and the causes of youth violence continues to grow and increase rapidly, just as the worldwide demand for this information. Meeting the need for this information will require governments and the society to make substantial investment in order to improve mechanisms for public health surveillance. In addition, there is a need to carry out scientific research, and formulate global infrastructure for disbursing and enforcing the strategies and approaches that have been proven. If governments and the society can meet this challenge and avail the necessary resources, then, youth violence can become a preventable public health problem in the future.