Warning Signs of Teen Violence

Teen violence in schools
Photo Credit: Verona Schools
As any law enforcement official will say, it is far better to prevent crime from happening than it is to react to crime once it has occurred. Police officers across the country work to protect their communities from crime, not only through their patrols and their investigations but also through outreach to prevent violence before it happens. At Hero 911, we want to be a resource beyond the technology, to react to violence but also a forum to discuss prevention. One such topic is the issue of teen violence, which is an epidemic with devastating consequences. In a 2011 study from the National Center for Education Statistics, over 20% of high school students reported being bullied at school. Of this group, 30% indicated that the bullying included physical violence against them. School threats of violence have also increased by 158% from 2010 to 2011, according to another study. Thankfully, school shootings are still relatively rare, but each individual incident leaves a lasting scar on the children, parents and community affected. While the causes of school violence are varied and complex, it is speculated that a rise in teen violence has an negative effect on the increase in school threats. Individual violence against children can be directly related back to teen violence, however. One in twelve high school aged teens are injured or threatened with a weapon each year. Most of the research indicates that students are subjected to more bullying, fighting and crime, leading to an overall epidemic of greater teen violence. Students that are bullied may lash out in violent ways, while others students may see violence as the only way to be heard. It is nearly impossible to isolate all of the factors that can lead a teen toward violent behavior, but the warning signs are there. Catching these warning signs can make the difference in the life of a child.

The Warning Signs of Teen Violence

These signs can give parents, teachers and friends some guidance if they begin to worry for a loved one. While this is not a comprehensive list, many of these behaviors can indicate a teen in trouble; especially if these behaviors were previously out of character for the teen.  
  • Regular loss of temper, fits of rage
  • Frequent physical fighting
  • Significant property damage or vandalism
  • Increase in risk taking behavior
  • Use of drugs or alcohol
  • Detailed discussion or plans to commit acts of violence
  • Increased fascination with weaponry
  • Increased fascination with dying or death
  • Gang membership or the strong desire to be in a gang
  • Withdrawal from friends, family or usual activities
  • Acting threatening to others
  • A marked change in school performance
  • Trouble controlling emotions
  • A history of run-ins with authorities or discipline problems
  • A constant feeling of being disrespected or ignored
  • Failing to acknowledge the feelings or rights of others
  • Having been a victim of bullying
If you suspect a teen is at risk with these behaviors, please reach out to local authorities or school officials. It is up to everyone to work together to identify children at risk and get them the help they need before they hurt themselves, or someone else. Detecting these behaviors before they devolve into violence can make the difference in keeping our schools safer for students.
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