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Increasing Violence Amongst Youth????

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Youth violence is an increasing concern in our society. Violence, as defined in Webster's online dictionary, is an "intense, turbulent or furious and often destructive action or exertion of (physical) force so as to injure or abuse." There is a growing perception that there is a steady rise in violence amongst today's youth, and with this increased attention, comes many sources of blame for their actions, however, all but one are simply excuses.

There is a lack of hard evidence to support the supposed increase in youth violence ( .) Since violence is subject to interpretation, it is a hard thing to measure. Although, it is for sure that sex and violence have always been a part of humankind. Freud discussed this over 100 years ago.

Many would agree that delinquent acts (including schoolyard violence) are a part of growing up, "such manifestations of risk-taking, rebellion, and rejection of traditional values are a part of normal development" ( ). As a functionalist would agree, deviance is necessary to set guidelines, and the boundaries between right and wrong. As an adolescent enters adulthood, becomes more responsible for his/her actions, establishes healthy relationships with others, delinquent behavior diminishes (

Violence and aggressive behavior have always been a part of society, so why it is receiving so much attention these days? Perhaps it's because today's

violent acts among adolescents "seem more likely to involve weapons and gangs and to involve more females and children of younger ages" ( than in previous generations. Perhaps the degree of youth violence hasn't changed at all, but the factors mentioned above have simply created a heightened awareness of violence amongst youth. Perhaps a heightened awareness and a lower tolerance for such acts have simply caused an increase in reporting violence, creating an illusion of an increase in youth violent behavior. The fact is, that "two thirds of violent youth-crime is attributed to just 6% of teenage boys," (, so it's not EVERYONE that is doing's still simply a small percentage.

There are extreme cases of youth violence in recent years that stand out and were covered extensively by the media. The Columbine incident is an example. This type of incident is rare but the media attention it received contributed to the perception of an increase in youth violence and comes to mind immediately when discussing youth violence. There was a large public outcry as a result of this case. Youth violence did not increase during this time; it just became more of social issue. There are many aspects that contributed to this crime and crimes like these which society likes to blame, however, the primary factor that influences our youth to engage in violent behavior are the parents.

First of all, much blame seems to be attributed to the entertainment industry. Video games such as "Mortal Combat" and "Grand Theft Auto," movies such as "Terminator," "Basketball Diaries" and "Lethal Weapon" and music artists such as Marilyn Manson, take a lot of heat for being violent. Society blames these forms of entertainment for youth aggressive behavior. Video games supposedly program children to kill, letting them participate in violence on the screen ( and play games in which winning means killing. Violent movies expose children to repeated scenes of murder and other violent behaviors. According to the American Psychiatric Association, an American child (Canadians can relate) has seen 16, 000 simulated murders and 200, 000 acts of violence by age 18 ( Music videos are full of sexual and violent content. "Music videos have become nothing more than lewd pornography with wicked, demoralizing lyrics," ( It is up to the parents to realize this, to monitor their children's behavior after watching a violent program, to teach them the difference between entertainment and reality and to limit their exposure time. "Children spend an estimated two hours a day playing video games, in addition to the time spent watching television." The parents should be spending this time interacting with their children and not have the television to baby-sit them.

Others blame the internet. "82% of Americans (I'm sure Canadians can relate) surveyed blaming the Internet at least partly for the Colorado killings," (Moore, Charles). However, the internet should be treated the same as the other sources of entertainment. Parents need to monitor their children's activities on the internet and should limit their exposure time. Parents need to teach their children that virtual freedom on the internet does not work in the outside world. There are rules to follow and morals not to be toyed with.

The availability of drugs, alcohol and guns is also being blamed. However, even if guns have become more available, drugs and alcohol have been common for a lot longer than youth violence has been considered a big problem. Again, it's the parent's responsibility to monitor their children and to educate them on the dangers of drugs and guns. Children should not have the desire to seek such things.

The school system, the churches, political leaders and even advertising companies have also been blamed at one point or another for this supposed outbreak in youth violence.



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