Youth Violence Reality Check: The Problem's Not as Big as it Seems Violence is a never-ending problem that our society has battled with since the beginning of time. To most people, the most ridiculous and most noticeable violence is adolescent crime. While these crimes committed by children and adolescents fascinate the public and generate a great deal of media attention, youth violence is actually less serious than reported. Fifteen people are dead, twenty-three wounded in the worst school massacre in history. The two gunmen were dead at Columbine High in a small town Littleton, Denver (Colorado).
Suspects were "fascinated with W. W. II and the Nazis." April 20, 1999 Hitler's Birthday. (qt d. in Devitt) The story flashes across the television screen, floating from state to state, country to country, giving society the accusing, misinterpreted view of today's "violent youths." Media reports debated for days about the problem of increasing teenage violence. Most reports exaggerated that the public was unsafe by youth "lawlessness" (Schwartz, Wendy).
"Youth violence is not as pervasive as is feared" (Schwartz, Wendy). The media also tends to point out the fact that adolescents have increased the dangerous use of weapons. P. A.
Strasburg states realistically, juvenile violence is considerably less serious in the aggregate than violence by adults" (qt d. in Schwartz, Ira 52). The output of the media goes straight to the public, giving society as a whole the same misperception as the media. "Parents are a lot more concerned for their kids nowadays even though their kids are in a more stable environment than the parents themselves were as children" (Schwartz, Ira 53).
Stability through technology and general better living have given children more security. America's adolescents are not as violent and unlawful as the public thinks (Devitt). Researchers have been finding out that both the media and the public have been exaggerating the severity of increasing youth violence (Miller 45). According to P. A.
Strasburg, "juveniles use fewer weapons and less deadly weapons and inflict less injury and financial loss on their victims then they have in the past" (qt d. in Schwartz 52). Researchers also discovered that "there have never been any self-contained dramatic increases of violent juvenile crime which did not parallel increases in adult crime" (Miller 45). Certainly from time to time, there are strange rises in violent crime (45).
But one of the main reasons is because of the number of adolescents in the population (45). The total youth population has increased by almost double the total from 1956 (45). Besides population, parents are involved in provoking youth violence too. According to last year's study in California, "of seventy-two youths charged with murder, more than one-third had parents with alcohol and drug abuse problems and all of them had parents who were divorced" (Murphy 62). Adult crime has quite a bit of influence on the "United States' unlawful youth" (Miller 44). The United States has always had a higher crime rate than other western countries which rises and falls in youth violence in the same pattern as adult crime (44).
These crimes are becoming more and more violent with the adult use of firearms. In 1997, seventy-seven percent of all adult homicides were caused by firearms (Devitt). Children notice this firearm fact and attempt to imitate. According to the author Dean Murphy, "many children who kill have learned about violence by watching their parents, aunts, uncles, and siblings" (Murphy 63). Since theses children are imitating the adult violence, fluctuation in crimes is also a huge factor. America's murder rate was higher in the 1930 s and 1940 s than in the 1960 s (Miller 45).
It rose again between 1965-1970, followed by a decrease between 1973-1975, then rising again in 1980 (45). So juvenile crime has fluctuated up and down like a rollercoaster but has not dramatically increased. The media has not only influenced the public with their exaggerated stories but persuaded children craving attention to turn to violence. In 1990, the media televised twenty-five percent of youth offenders who were committed for "crimes against persons" (46). However, only a few actually involved violence, according to police (46). Four percent were classified as violent (46).
However, in seventy-two percent of those "violent" crimes, there was no physical injury (46). In the cases where there was physical injury, ninety-three percent did not need medical attention (46). The reports that were televised sent signals to children that theses "violent" youths were "cool" (Devitt). The stories glorified the youths and gave children an effective way to gain attention. The sad part is, the media is just beginning to televise these violent reports because they are just now beginning to realize that youth violence exists. In reality, this violence has always been around.
The media can help prevent violence and correct society's misperception's of youth by avoiding televised stories of these "glorified" crimes (Schwartz, Wendy). By focusing on the problem of violence in general our society can work together to decrease crime. Parents can intervene early in their child's life to help prevent future problems. "Elementary education training in anger management, impulse control, appreciation for diversity, and mediation and conflict resolution skills can help prevent youths from engaging in violence as they mature" (Schwartz, Wendy). Becoming involved in children's lives helps them to realize that they are cared for and then they will not seek attention in a violent way. Society needs to wake up to the reality and give children the loving attention they need.
"We need to stop focusing on the few bad kids and 'glorify' the good ones; they are our future" (qt d. in Schwartz, Wendy). Society can reach out to troubled children by involving themselves in their children's lives. Although violence may not have increased, there are more programs now to help reduce violence than we had ten years ago (Schwartz, Wendy). By promoting mutual respect among members of the community, student self-respect, and appreciation for diversity, we can decrease violence in general and eliminate all misperception's of the promising youth (Schwartz, Wendy). Works Cited Devitt, Terry.
"When Kids Kill." n. d. Online. 2 March 2000. Yahoo: http: why files. news.
wisc. edu/065 school violence/1 html Miller, Jerome G. "Youth Violence Is Not Increasing." Youth Violence. Ed. David L. Bender.
San Diego: Greenhaven, 1992. 44-48 Murphy, Dean E. "The Causes of Youth Violence: An Overview." Youth Violence. Ed. David L. Bender.
San Diego: Greenhaven, 1992. 60-64. Schwartz, Ira M. "The Problem of Youth Violence is Exaggerated. : Youth Violence.
Ed. David L. Bender. San Diego: Greenhaven, 1992. 49-54. Schwartz, Wendy.
"An Overview of Strategies to Reduce School Violence." n. d. Online. 2 March 2000. Yahoo: web.