While youth violence has reached epidemic records, numerous risk factors for teens might help parents understand the issues and minimize problems. However, parents and involved adults should realize that these risk factors contribute to violence but do not directly cause it. Experts further advise that these and similar lists should not be used to unfairly categorize a juvenile who seems to fit into a set group of risk factors. These risk factors for teen violence can be divided into several categories, including personal, family, peer and community factors.
Personal Risk Factors
The following individual risk factors indicate a possible potential for teen violence:
- Previous violence perpetrated upon the teen
- Learning disorders
- Low IQ
- Antisocial behaviors
- Substance abuse, including cigarettes
- High emotional trauma
- Aggressive behavior at a young age
- Previous behavioral issues
- Preoccupation with violence
- Blames others for problems
- Past talk of suicide or attempts
- Starting fires
- Cruel to pets or animals
- A history of both bullying and being bullied
- Calls others names
- Throws tantrums or rages
- Family Risk Factors
- These family factors indicate possible risks for teen violence:
- Dysfunctional family issues
- Lack of discipline in the home
- Parental criminal behavior or substance abuse
- Attachment issues
- Authoritarian views of childrearing
- Low income or education of parents and
- Little involvement with parents.
Social Risk Factors
Social factors that put teens at risk for violent behavior include:
- Delinquent associates
- Rejection from peers
- Limited involvement in school
- Struggling academics
- Minimal involvement in traditional activities, such as sports and music and
- Gang involvement.
- School Risk Factors
- In addition to social risk factors, the following factors put juveniles at risk for violence towards others:
- Past suspension or expulsion for violent behavior
- Demonstrated violence or anger in art work
- Discipline problems
- School truancy
- Aggressiveness in lower grades and
- Bringing a weapon to school.
Neighborhood Risk Factors
These community factors can indicate an increased risk for teen violence:
- Socially disadvantaged community
- Minimal community involvement
- Transient population
- Limited economic opportunities and
- Disrupted family activities.
Protective Factors Against Teen Violence
On the other hand, protective factors minimize the risks of adolescents becoming violent. While not as much is known about protective attributes, researchers will likely study these traits further.
Personal Protective Factors
The following personal factors help reduce the risk of violence for teens:
- Strong social skills
- Religious beliefs
- Exceptional planning abilities
- Strong academic achievement
- High IQ and
- No tolerance toward deviant behaviors.
These family factors can decrease the risk of violence for teens:
- Parental involvement and presence
- Coping strategies
- Involvement in social events
- Family activities
- High academic expectations by parents
- Connection with family and
- Ability to talk with parents
These social factors can help teens avoid violence:
- A school with involved staff and parents, negative attitudes toward violence, clear expectations and close supervision
- Close relationships with positive peers
- Supportive activities and
- Commitment to school and academic achievement.
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