10 Causes of Youth Violence

Parents of teens often worry about their teenager's involvement in drugs, alcohol, weapons and a whole world of other potential dangers. Parents who read or watch the news may find disturbing facts regarding youth violence. There are many reasons why a teen may act out in violence, and parents can be better prepared to read the warnings signs if they understand some of the underlying issues. Organizations, such as the National Criminal Justice Reference Service and the American Psychological Association, and websites, such as teenhelp.com, offer tips, advice, resources and statistics for parents and teens 12. The following list is sourced by the references found below.

Peer Pressure

Teens who are involved in violent activities usually do not perform them alone but in a group of friends. Knowing your child's friends and how they behave can reveal to you whether or not there are warning signs of violence. Teenagers are easily influenced by their friends, so if the friends are violent, the chances of your teen becoming violent will increase.

Parental Violence

If a teen's parents are abusive, violent or portray hostile behavior to each other, to the teen or to others outside the family, there is a likely chance the teen will display similar or worse behavior.

Being Bullied or Victimized

Teenagers who are victims of bullying or teasing are more likely to become violent as a last resort, cry for help or as revenge.

Access to Weapons

Teenagers who have easy access to weapons, especially guns, will find it easier to act out violent fantasies or vengeful feelings.

Neighborhood Violence

If teens witness violent crimes or frequent neighborhood violence, they are more likely to copy that behavior.

The Media

The media plays a role in contributing to teen violence. If teens frequently or obsessively watch movies with violence, play video games containing highly violent content or listen to music with violent lyrics, they will be more susceptible to behaving violently themselves.

Poor Mental Health

Poor mental health can be a contributing factor or a cause of teen violence. Mental health contributors include:

  • low self esteem
  • depression
  • history of abuse
  • post traumatic stress disorder
  • conduct disorder
  • anxiety

Substance Abuse

If a teen abuses substances, they are more likely to act violently while under the influence.

Prenatal Causes

Prenatal exposure to drugs, alcohol and lead can cause damage to the brain and create difficulty in controlling violent, aggressive or hostile behavior later in life, including teen years or even earlier.

School Failure

Teenagers who fail in school or have high pressure in school are more likely to act out violently or aggressively.