Scott went to school every day. There, he had few friends. He ate alone; he sat in a secluded corner during class. Few spoke to him. He was the new kid – the kid with the greasy hair; the kid who wore strange clothes. No one wanted much to do with him. Those who did say hello, he shrugged off. He was teased, thrown in dumpsters, and left socially desolate. Each day, he lost a piece of his pride as he left the school’s doors. That’s why he brought a gun to school.
At least, that’s what everyone is saying. Besides school shootings, other kids like Scott have committed horrific crimes–and they haven’t even entered adulthood yet.
Preachers have been calling for the end of the world for longer than we can remember; but perhaps they have something right this time–our children are killing other children. In 2000, 1,561 teenagers were arrested for homicide and 9 percent of kids under the age of 18 had committed murder. For what? Why? The reasons are hard to understand.
A recent story: teenage brothers killed a 12-year-old girl for her BMX bike. In 2006, teenage boys killed one of their acquaintances to emulate the Columbine shooting catastrophe. Another set of teenagers killed their peer over a Facebook dispute in 2011.
What’s In Their Heads?
Beneath what seem to be hollow reasons, there is something deeply wrong with these teenagers. Like Scott, these teens must have had something turning wrong in their heads for a long time. Ruminating or fantasizing about violent revenge, and enjoying seeing a stray cat’s pain are perhaps their first steps to falling into thinking that they are capable of killing.
– Lack of Coping Mechanisms
Teen violence can be caused by a number of things, but there is really no single cause as to why a person decides to become violent. Violence may stem from a teenager’s lack of stress management skills. For adolescents, the changes in their bodies–and the new hormones–amplify stress and frustration, which could be further aggravated by mental disorders. Like Scott, bullying at school will push a teen into violence if he doesn’t know how to handle his frustration.
– Imitating Violence
Modeling after media or video games is another theory. The teenage boys who admired the Columbine shooters, for example, tried to imitate the perpetrators–which resulted in the murder of their classmate.
– Alcohol and Drug Abuse
Addiction to drugs or alcohol is another big factor. While under the influence, it’s more likely that youngsters will act out violently. Coupled with peer influence and gang activity, it’s not surprising that a teenager could be caught up in a world of violence.
What Can Parents Do?
The best way to help our children grow up healthily is to simply be involved in their lives. Know where they are, who they’re with, and what they’re doing. This may seem a little stringent, according to your individual parenting style, but being involved in your child’s life will help you catch the warning signs of violent behavior before your child decides that a gun is his only answer to his problems. And when you see that things are becoming worse or out-of-control, programs, like those offered at RedCliff Ascent, can stop your teenager’s dark, violent thinking.
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Claire Smith is a freelance writer who often blogs about social issues and teen problems. She also writes for Red Cliff Ascent, which is an institution that aids troubled youngsters.