Growing minds such as teens are impressionable and can develop unhealthy habits such as believing that violence is a normal part of growing up. Fortunately, youth violence prevention can be taught in school and at home to help shatter those ideas. Experiencing violence during this time of life can harm development and contribute to:
- Impaired decision-making.
- Learning challenges.
- Decreased connections to peers and adults.
- Trouble coping with stress.
Violence can also affect teens’ physical health and increase the chance of developing cancer, heart disease, or other health problems in adulthood. We can protect teens and support their growth into healthy adults by preventing violence (cdc, 2021).
Effective Ways To Prevent Youth Violence
Educate and Inform:
Teaching teens to think before they speak can be an exercise at home and in school. When we take a moment to choose our words wisely, we are placing an effort to communicate more effectively, lessen the chances of hurting others with words and promote listening skills that can have a lasting impact.
Additionally, teaching teens about microaggressions can sometimes help diffuse potential ripple effects that have a lasting impact on the development of marginalized communities. “What are microaggressions? The Anti-Defamation League defines them as the everyday slights, indignities, put-downs, and insults that People of Color, women, LGBTQ populations, and other marginalized people experience in their day-to-day interactions. Microaggressions have been compared to mosquito bites — over time, those bites can do lots of harm” (Sandy Hook Promise, 2021).
Empathize and Connect:
Provide the opportunity to create positive foundations such as a positivity chain of recognizing each student in the classroom by having each one pay a compliment to another student. This exercise promotes positivity, helps squash bullying, and encourages friendship among students who would not normally interact.
Engage and Unite In Action:
Create a volunteer experience that helps promote positivity in your community such as planting a garden, a park clean up, or volunteering at a food drive or soup kitchen. Actively including teens in this activity will promote positivity and teach them humility in their community. Learning about the hardships of others and respecting their environment teaches teens the importance of spreading kindness and love instead of violence.
Facts and Tips For Youth Violence:
Many parents would be surprised to hear that youth violence isn’t just bullying. It can take the form of self-harm, cyberbullying, suicide ideation, depression, and weapons. Learning how to tackle each of those components can be challenging. Still, there are helpful resources provided by the Child Welfare Organization, the Centers for Disease Control, and the Sandy Hook Promise all intended to spread awareness, share tips, and educational resources, as well as activities to help promote kindness and positivity.
CDC. Violence Impacts Teens’ Lives. 2021, February. https://www.cdc.gov/injury/features/teen-violence-impact/index.html.
Sandy Hook Promise. National Youth Violence Prevention Week. 2021. https://sandyhookpromise.app.box.com/s/32em40mi7wwn8jz35dvf28qmux2s4xlb.