Understanding Violent Behavior in Children and Adolescents

UNDERSTANDING VIOLENT BEHAVIOR
IN CHILDREN AND TROUBLED TEENS
No. 55

For Families:

* The most critical risk factor for violence for your children is the behavior of their peers. Know who your kids associate with and encourage healthy peer relationships.
* The strongest risk factors during childhood are involvement in serious but not necessarily violent criminal behavior, substance use, being male, physical aggression, low family socioeconomic status or poverty and antisocial parents – all individual or family attributes or conditions. During adolescence, the strongest risk factors are weak ties to conventional peers, ties to antisocial or delinquent peers, belonging to a gang, and involvement in other criminal acts.

If your teen is engaged in violent behavior and there is no way to reason with him or her anymore, the only option left may be to send your troubled teen to a program. Zion Educaional Systems is a website for programs for troubled teens. Our dedicated staff is there to help parents to their troubled teens overcome their anger, violence, drug and alcohol abuse, and disrespect issues among other things. Our students come from all over the United States including CaliforniaNew YorkNorth Carolina, and Texas.

Children as young as preschoolers can show violent behavior. Parents and other adults who witness the behavior may be concerned, however, they often hope that the young child will grow out of it. Violent behavior in a child at any age always needs to be taken seriously. It should not be quickly dismissed as just a phase they’re going through!


Range of Violent Behavior
Violence in children and adolescents can include a wide range of behaviors: explosive temper tantrums, physical aggression, fighting, threats or attempts to hurt others (including homicidal thoughts), use of weapons, cruelty toward animals, fire setting, intentional destruction of property and vandalism.
Violence in children and adolescents can include a wide range of behaviors: explosive temper tantrums, physical aggression, fighting, threats or attempts to hurt others (including homicidal thoughts), use of weapons, cruelty toward animals, fire setting, intentional destruction of property and vandalism.
Factors Which Increase Risk of Violent Behavior
Research studies have shown that a complex combination of factors increases risk of violent behavior in children and adolescents. These factors include:
Research studies have shown that a complex combination of factors increases risk of violent behavior in children and adolescents. These factors include:

* Previous aggressive or violent behavior
* Being the victim of physical, sexual or emotional abuse
* Exposure to violence in the home (domestic violence) and/or community
* Genetic (family heredity) factors
* Exposure to violence in media (TV, movies, etc.)
* Use of drugs and/or alcohol
* Prenatal exposure to drugs or alcohol
* Presence of firearms in home
* Combination of stresses on a family or individual (poverty, marital breakup, single parenting, unemployment, loss of support from extended family)
* Brain damage from head injury


What are the warning signs for violent behavior in children? Children who have several risk factors and show the following behaviors should be carefully evaluated:


o Statements of threats to harm self or others
o Intense anger
o Frequent loss of temper or blow-ups
o Extreme irritability
o Extreme impulsiveness
o Becoming easily frustrated

Parents and teachers should be careful not to minimize these behaviors in children.


What can be done if a child shows violent behavior?
Whenever a parent or other adult is concerned, they should immediately arrange for a comprehensive evaluation by a qualified mental health professional. Early treatment by a professional can often help. The goals of treatment typically focus on helping the child to: learn how to control his/her anger; express anger and frustrations in appropriate ways; be responsible for his/her actions; and accept consequences. Family conflicts, school problems, and community issues must also be addressed.

Can anything prevent violent behavior in children?
Research studies have shown that much violent behavior can be decreased or even prevented if the above risk factors are significantly reduced or eliminated.

In addition, the following strategies can lessen or prevent violent behavior:
o Prevention of child abuse (use of programs such as parent training, family support programs, etc.)
o Sex education and parenting programs for adolescents
o Early intervention programs for violent youngsters
o Monitoring child’s viewing of violence on TV, movies, video or computer games

Most importantly, efforts should be directed at dramatically decreasing the exposure of children and adolescents to violence in the home, community, and through the media.

If you would like to know more about therapeutic boarding school and other residential programs for troubled teens, please contact a family counselor at Zion Educational Systems for guidance.  To get started click the button below!

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