What causes teen violence?What causes teen violence?

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brettd's profile pic

brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Teens are chemically different from adults, hormonally overloaded, with partially developed abilities to reason and understand action-consequence.  Add to that social factors such as lack of education, poverty, exposure to violence and crime, lack of role models.  The list goes on and on.  Hard to say which, if any, is the decisive factor.

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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Adults ultimately should be responsible for their teens, and if they set a good example, teach them to act responsibly, and keep a watchful eye over their children, violent acts should be rare.

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archteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Adjunct Educator

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Many causes of teen violence are just variations/extensions of the adult world.  If a teen sees his/her parents navigate a world where material wealth is paramount, he will carry his observations into school, his own job, etc.  A student who sees his/her parents being looked down on by those with more money might grow to resent his wealthier peers.  And, or course, some of those peers will be conditioned by their own adult influences to look down on him.  A segmented society creates a segmented school setting, regardless of what the segments are (racial, economic, etc.).  Any segmented environment leads to feelings of privelege, inequality, resentment, and injustice.  These feelings in turn can lead to violence.

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readerofbooks | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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I am not sure if any one answer will be right. Most likely, an answer will contain a combination of reasons. Here are some suggetions.

1. Boredom. Many teens simply have little or nothing to do. This is why there is a lot of initiatives to get kids off the street, so that they could do something productive.

2. Drugs and Alcohol. Places where there is the most violence have a increase in drugs and alcohol use.

3. Poverty and the lack of future mobility. When kids have nothing better to look forward to, they may resort to violence. In other words, if they have nothing to lose, then violence and the consequences of violence might not be a all that serious to them.

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mrs-campbell | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Another factor is the home environment that the teen is coming from.  Studies have indicated that bullies are often bullied at home. If someone has been raised in a home that is filled with yelling, violence, threats and abuse, it is easy to see how they might behave that way outside of the home.  Often, the teenager has no power to lash back at the parent, or is fearful to do it, or it only makes the situation worse if they do.  So, they go into the community and lash out there.  Another thing that happens is that if someone has seen people dealing with problems and stress in violent ways their entire life, they too learn to deal with stress in a violent way.  How can they have learned otherwise?

One other factor is the possibiliy of mental health issues.  Many violent offenders in jail have anti-social personality disorder, which means that they don't care about other people, or the consequences of their actions.  Another word for these people are sociopaths--people who cause mayhem and destruction, with no concern for repercussions or damage done.  It is all about living in the moment and satisfying their needs, no matter what the cost to others.

Those are just a couple other possible causes of teen violence.  I hope that helps too.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The previous post did a very nice job in articulating some of the causes.  Sociologists and other professionals spend lifetimes trying to determine the answer to this.  Some other possible reasons, outside of the ones listed, could consist of various social and personal factors.  A child who is exposed to more violence in their homes, in terms of seeing how adults receive violence, could be more likely to embrace it themselves.  Along these lines, children who are abused could be at greater risk of perpetrating abuse onto others.  Social conditions could also be a factor in children embracing violence.  If children are involved in social settings where violence is a reality and something that surrounds them, there could be a great opportunity to embrace it for themselves.  These are not meant to be correlative statements, as there are plenty of children who are surrounded by violence and repel it themselves, just as there are many examples of children who are abused and do not abuse.  Yet, when seeking to determine some level of causation, one cannot ignore that the realities within which children grow play a profound role in whether or not abuse is a reality embraced by children.

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coachingcorner | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

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Teen violence and aggressive behaviors can have many root causes. Firsty, hormones. This is a time when chemical changes in youngsters bodies are galloping at an alarming rate - and it takes their bodies a while to balance up, This results in occasional overdoses of strong hormones such as testosterone, a hormone which is thought to provoke macho, over-assertive behaviors.

Combine these teens' delicate egos at this time and you have a time-bomb of hormone cocktails as the adrenaline also sets in. Sometimes teens are very self-conscious and it only takes a careless inconsiderate or hurtful commet and.... well, trouble.

Teens are also often on a short fuse, and have little patience so find it difficult to find that 'chill-down' place in their soul before anger sets in.

Other reasons can lie in traumatic unloving upbringing, cruelty and innate psychological conditions which have remained undiagnosed. Add a measure of violence in games and movies... and well...it's little wonder some of them end up in trouble.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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There is no one answer to this question because A) it is hard to determine why people do what they do and B) because even if you can determine causes, those causes certainly differ from person to person.  Some major causes are likely to be:

  • Simple immaturity.  Adolescence is a time of strong emotions, emotions that people have not yet learned to control.  Those emotions can easily lead to violence.
  • Feelings of being put upon.  Teens who feel oppressed by teachers, bullies, parents, etc can often try to deal with their anger through violence.
  • The media -- this one is often cited as a reason for teen violence because it gives teens models for violent behavior.

My personal opinion is that the first of these is the most important.  I think that teen violence is inevitable as long as there are teens with hormones and little experience at controlling them.

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allancoger | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

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It's also been observed by scientists that the brain develops from back to front, and while the logical part is at the front of the brain, the emotional part is at the back, so when people undergo puberty, the emotional half is developed first and teens begin to act less rationally and more emotionally.

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