Everyone was horrified and saddened by the shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado of 1999. Back then, school shootings were not as common as they are now. While the Columbine shooting was not the first school-related shooting, it was one of the more tragic and shocking ones.
After that horrific day, the country wanted answers. What inspires teenagers to kill others at such a young age? Is it video games? The culture? The parents? The music? Everyone searched for answers, but nobody really knew for sure.
Violence in schools is now more frequent, yet we still do not have all of the answers. From Sandy Hook to Stoneman Douglas, the past few years have shone a new light on youth violence and prevention measures. National Youth Violence Prevention week is a sobering time to honor past victims, share violence prevention resources, and understand youth violence.
What is National Youth Violence Prevention Week?
National Youth Violence Prevention Week occurs every year from April 12 to April 16. It was founded in 2001 by Students Against Violence Everywhere (SAVE). Its purpose is to build awareness and inform parents, teachers, and youth about violence prevention measures. Its goal is to reduce youth violence through several initiatives and resources. Photo Credit: Pexels
Violence is not just about school shootings. It includes bullying, date rapes, cyberbullying, and physical fighting. Due to the increase in youth violence, almost 10% of students feel unsafe going to school, or walking home from school each day. Because of these staggering numbers and the uptick in school shootings, organizations around the country feel compelled to act. They believe the first step is to understand the problem, know why it occurs, and then teach helpful prevention mechanisms to involved parties.
Why Does Youth Violence Occur?
Nobody knows the exact cause for the uptick in youth violence. Many psychologists, parents, religious leaders, and cultural experts have made a list of possible reasons. These include –
· Rise in mental health problems
· Prevalence of violence in the media
· Breakdown of the family structure
· Rise of youth-related gangs
· Violent video games
· Internet culture
· Diminished economic opportunities
· High-levels of crime
· Lack of emphasis on faith or a moral code
· Rise in domestic violence
· Poor parenting, neglect, rejection
· Rise in drug and alcohol abuse
· Traumatic events
How Can We Stop Youth Violence?
If we can reverse some of the above trends, we may be able to reduce youth violence. However, this requires a complete overhaul of societal structure and norms. And that is not easy. There are ways for parents and staff to reach troubled youth right now that do not require a comprehensive change in societal norms. These include –
· Increase connectivity and interaction between youth and family
· Improve communication techniques
· Participate in activities with youth
· Increase positive outlets for teens and young children
· Increase access to resources for drug and alcohol abuse
· Teach gun safety measures
· Increase access to mental health services
· Watch out for and speak to at-risk students
· If something seems wrong, say something
Resources During National Youth Violence Prevention Week
Here are some resources for at-risk youth, parents, and school communities –
· Violence Prevention – cdc.gov/violence+prevention
· Futures Without Violence – futureswithoutviolence.org
· Up and Away and Out of Sight – upandaway.org
· Violence Policy Center – vpc.org
· ACES Too High – acestoohigh.com
Do you struggle with anxiety or depression? Do you have a young child in need of mental health services? If so, please contact Straight Talk Counseling at 714-828-2000 or visit our website at straighttalkcounseling.org. One of our professional counselors would be happy to speak with you.