What are the Reasons Behind Teen Violence?

The teenage years can cause confusion, which can manifest itself in violent outbursts, especially if the teen is exposed to external factors that promote violent behavior. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about 30 percent of teens were involved in at least one instance of violent behavior in the previous year between the years 2004 and 2008. Identifying the reasons behind teen violence is important when preventing it in the future.

Drug Use

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports that nearly 50 percent of teens between the ages of 12 and 17 who use illicit drugs engage in violent behavior during the same year as their drug use. Only 26 percent of teens who did not use drugs during the previous year participated in a violent act. More than 60 percent of teens who use more than one type of illicit drug per year become violent during the same period. The study also found that the type of drugs being used matters, as less than 50 percent of marijuana users engaged in violent acts compared with almost 70 percent of methamphetamine users.

Environmental Factors

Some teens act out violently to release frustration because they have trouble controlling their emotions. Violence is also used to control others because they have learned to get their own way through a violent outburst, according to FamilyEducation.com. For others, violence becomes a coping mechanism after a traumatic event, such as witnessing violence at home as a child. Violent behavior is often learned, especially if violence becomes a part of everyday life.

Media Influence

Violence is prevalent on television and has an influence on how children perceive this behavior. According the KidsHealth, the average child witnesses 200,000 televised acts of violence by his 18th birthday 4. This exposure not only desensitizes children to these acts, but also encourages imitation. This is especially true when the protagonist commits a violent act. HealthyChildren.org reports that violence on television increases violence among teens by between 5 percent and 15 percent 5.

Family Income

A study by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health suggests a link between a family's income and violent behavior. Teens from families who make less than $20,000 each year commit more than 40 percent of violent acts. Conversely, those from homes with an income of above $75,000 commit fewer than 25 percent of violent acts annually. The same study shows that more than 50 percent of students with a D average or lower used violent behavior, compared to 17 percent of teens with an A average.