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Good marks for mentoring program aimed at reducing violence

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Good marks for mentoring program aimed at reducing violence

The term “youth violence” indicates bullying, hitting, assault, gun shot wounds, broken bones, and it includes the victim, the offender, and the witness. The term highlights how violence affects a whole community. Youths assaulting youths is the 2nd leading cause of death for young people ages 10-24. [2]

Youth violence prevention must occur at all levels of influence—both on and offline. Technology can facilitate the discovery of violent behavior patterns, and it can help prevent violence from happening. If parents, educators, and mentors are aware of the risk factors and warning signs, they can use technology as another tool to prevent and detect violence among the young people they know.

Risk Factors

Risk factors indicate possibility for engaging in harmful behavior. These risk factors should be used to identify youth who might need additional support. The CDC separates the risk factors for youth violence into 4 categories:

 Individual Risk Factors

History of violent victimization.

Attention deficits, hyperactivity or learning disorders.

History of early aggressive behavior.

Involvement with drugs, alcohol or tobacco.

Low IQ.

Poor behavioral control.

Deficits in social cognitive or information-processing abilities.

High emotional distress.

History of treatment for emotional problems.

Antisocial beliefs and attitudes.

Exposure to violence and conflict in the family.


Family Risk Factors

 Authoritarian child-rearing attitudes.

Harsh, lax or inconsistent disciplinary practices.

Low parental involvement.

Low emotional attachment to parents or caregivers.

Low parental education and income.

Parental substance abuse or criminality.

Poor family functioning.

Poor monitoring and supervision of children.

Peer/School Risk Factors


Association with delinquent peers.

Involvement in gangs.

Social rejection by peers.

Lack of involvement in conventional activities.

Poor academic performance.

Low commitment to school and school failure.


Community Risk Factors

 Diminished economic opportunities.

High concentrations of poor residents.

High level of transiency.

High level of family disruption.

Low levels of community participation.

Socially disorganized neighborhoods. [3]


Warning Signs

Risk factors indicate a possibility of violent behavior. But, if a young person is already engaging in aggressive behavior patterns, he or she may exhibit the following specific red-flag behaviors:

Bullying other children or being the target of bullies.

Exhibiting aggressive behavior, or being alternately aggressive and withdrawn.

Being truant from school.

Being arrested before age 14.

Belonging to delinquent or violent peer groups.

Abusing alcohol or other drugs.

Engaging in antisocial behavior, such as setting fires and treating animals cruelly. [4]

Youth involved in violent activities often reveal warning signs online. For example, a 14-year old boy may brag about a fight on facebook. Or, a victim may only report bullying on his or her blog. Friends of your son may make aggressive, angry comments on his social networking page. In addition, locations for fights are often communicated through text. Concerned adults who take these comments and threats seriously will be able to both model healthy behavior and effectively intervene.


Upstander Action

Reduce Risk Factors

If you know a young person has a history of victimization or witnessing of violent acts, make sure he or she gets appropriate counseling. Get the family involved whenever possible to increase the sense of community and belonging. Participate in and help promote programs in the community which help model healthy behaviors for children. Use technology to create and promote awareness for these programs.


Increase Factors for Prevention

Whenever possible, encourage young people to engage in healthy, productive activities (i.e. sports, clubs, art). When appropriate, build a sense of community by connecting with young people online. Encourage young people to safely express their emotions and articulate sources of stress. Online tools like blogs and forums may be helpful in this effort. If appropriate, provide a counselor or professional therapist for a child at risk.

 Support and encourage parenting programs that help mothers and fathers know how to bond with children and discipline effectively.

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