It may seem harmless to see your child engage in violent video games, watch movies with graphic violence or even play with toy guns, but the reality is that many teens learn violent behaviors from exposure to media and violent examples in the home. Teen violence is rampant in schools, social settings, online and even in homes. Learning the facts about teen violence can help parents teach their teens how to handle violent situations and to opt for a nonviolent solution.
Violence Begins at Home
Exposure to violence at home can encourage and promote violent behavior in teens, according to the Zur Institute, an online continuing education resource for psychologists and therapists. The institute asserts that children who are exposed to violence at home – regardless of whether it is directed at them or others – are more likely to be violent. Teens who live in abusive homes where physical or verbal violence is accepted as a common practice exhibit stronger predictors of adult violent behavior.
Media Influences Violent Behavior
If you don’t think your child is exposed to violence through the media, think again. According to the Zur Institute, the average child has witnessed 10,000 or more acts of violence on television and video games by the time he reaches 12 years of age. In fact, violence is common on most mainstream television shows as well as in cartoons. The Zur Institute asserts that studies have shown that violence in the media can influence the attitudes and behaviors of children who watch violence on television. The United States Surgeon General also reports that aggressive behavior in teens can be linked to children who watch violent shows.
Violent Video Games Glorify Violence
Teens who engage in video games that trivialize violence may be more likely to glorify violent acts, according to the Zur Institute. The graphic content in video games that show blood, gore, guts and rampant shootings can also desensitize your child to violence in society. This could be related to the realistic graphics and sounds of many video games. In fact, according to the Zur Institute, law enforcement and military agencies use violent video games to train their troops and personnel in the use of firearms.
Abuse Victims Are at Risk for Violent Behavior
Many factors can contribute to teen violence, but according to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, being the victim of abuse – physical or sexual – can lead to an increased risk of violent behavior in teens. In addition, if a child exhibits previous aggressive behavior or is exposed to violence in a community on a regular basis, he is at risk for exhibiting violent behavior.