Youth Violence, Research Paper Example

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Research Paper

Introduction

Violence is defined as the behavior that can threaten or cause harm to a particular target, whether the harm is physical, sexual or psychological.  Youth violence is a problem that is continually growing in countries around the world.  Youth violence refers to violent acts that are committed by adolescents from the age 12 through 18; however, in some countries the age can be referred up to age 29.  (Guerra, 2005)Youth violence has been referred as one of the most obvious forms of violence in today’s society, with media and reports indicating the violence committed by youth gangs in schools or on the streets.  In addition, the victims of these acts of violence are usually youths as well.  In fact, homicide and non-fatal assaults are the cause of death, injury and disability in youth worldwide.  In the year 2000 alone, an estimation of 200,000 youth homicides recorded around the world.  That indicates that that over 550 youths are killed per day due to violence.  (WHO, ) Of course these rates vary per region or country; however these numbers are very alarming. Youth violence not only has psychological costs to the individual, but has social and economic costs to the communities, cities, states and countries.

Youth violence can not only harm the victims, but the victim’s families, friends, neighborhood and community.  The harm comes from death, disease, disability, and emotional stress.  Violence amongst youth can also add economic costs such as welfare services and depreciation of housing values within the community.  The individual youth who are committing the violence usually display many problems, such as truancy, dropping out school, drug abuse, and risks of sexually transmitted diseases. (WHO, )  Therefore, the current paper examines the psychological, sociological, anthropological, and interdisciplinary perspectives of youth violence around the world.

Psychological Perspective

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has indicated that the number one health issue of the youth today is violence. With this information, the study of youth violence and its risks factors have been evaluated in terms of aggressive and anti-social behavior.  It has been further indicated from research that the factors contributing to this type of behavior come from a multitude of sources. From a psychological standpoint, the sources are referred to as weak boding, ineffective parenting of discipline, poor supervision, and exposure to home violence. (NIMH, 2000) Therefore, psychologists suggest that monitoring anti-social behavior and tracking the social behavior from pre-school ages can be helpful in preventing future violent behavior.  (ISPN, 2001)

It is suggested the prevention should be the main focus of programs against youth violence.  Previous research has supported early intervention through nurse home visitation programs have decreased later anti-social behavior in at risk youth, in regard to correlation with violence.  This research has illustrated that a child’s anti-social behavior can in fact be tracked from the beginning school years.  Focusing on at-risk children and helping the children develop the skills they need to interact at a social and emotional level in school is a main factor during the intervention.  (ISPN, 2001) The Child and Mental Health Services Foundations Network has reported that intervening with children and teaching the children to succeed in school on a social and emotional level, will decrease the risk for school problems or emotional problems in the future. (FAN, 2000)

Other psychological perspectives focus on behavioral parent training, in particular how the mothers are able to interact with their difficult toddlers.  The interaction connects the ability of the parent to be calm and prevent aggressive behavior. This can help teach the children how to cope and problem solve instead of having an aggressive response. (ISPN, 2001)

Sociological perspective

Researchers have correlated the absence of social problem-solving skills with youth violence.  It has been indicated that when youth are placed in social situations that they are not ready for, both emotionally and cognitively, that there is an increased risk for aggressive or violent behavior.  It is therefore suggested that a child’s ability to learn how to be ready for these types of situations can be improved through the enhancement of social interactions with peers. The research further implies that social-cognitive skills prepare children with the proper skills they need to effectively handle difficult social situations, whether being bullied or teased, or being the last one picked to join a sports team game. The idea stems from Bandura’s social-cognitive theory.

Bandura’s social-cognitive theory states that children learn social skills through the observation and the direct interaction of their parents, relative, friends, peers, teachers, as well as the environment.  (Bandura, 1986)  This theory relies on the social-cognitive interventions that each and model to children and support the positive social interactions, such as teaching the nonviolent methods for how to resolve a conflict, as well as helping establish the belief of nonviolence in young individuals.  (Bandura, 1986)

From the sociological perspective, the at-risk children should be targeted because the violent children should be given special attention.  It is supported that all children receive the attention, however, most communities lack the resources and the youth with history of violence should be targeted.  In addition, it is found that most at risk children and children who are exhibiting the violent behavior are mostly from communities that have the high risk factors of poverty, drug abuse, and alcohol abuse.  (CDC, 1999)  Therefore, prevention programs seem to target individuals that possess the psychological factors and sociological factors of family and environment.

Anthropological perspective

There has been little research conducted on an anthropological approach to youth violence until the late 80s early 90s.  In addition, anthropology in general on youth ages was not investigated until the 1920s.  During that time and until recent years, youth was investigated on a perspective such as a cultural standpoint, such as rites of passage, gender identity, and transitions from childhood to adulthood. Since then, anthropological issues in regard to youth life stage have been a focus and have been incorporating biological and psychological stages of this development, as well as the challenges they are facing, such as social stresses and violence.  The reason for this is that from an anthropological perspective, it is indicated that the social experiences distinct in adolescent ages compared to adulthood.  In addition, it is theorized that the social experiences that are encountered are responsible for the decisions that the individual makes later on in life at a more mature age.Furthermore, anthropologists indicate that youth are often under surveillance and undergo punishment more often through peers, family, society, as well as the government.  (Cultural Anthropology, 2012)

In a book written by Edberg and Bourgois (2012), an anthropological view was applied to youth violence looking at urban areas and risks as a setting for youth violence.  The book indicates how once youth of placed in a marginalized street culture environment, they are exposed to many different types of risk facts, which deter the individual from a structured life of social goals and valued behavior.  The book also describes how the high risk behavior becomes second nature to these individuals.  In fact, violence may attribute positive contributions to their life, in regard to peer and status in the neighborhood or setting.  In addition, the violent acts and behavior become an import part of their life and environment, which allow the individuals to rationalize their violent behavior.

This anthropological perspective differs from the psychological and sociological perspective in that it looks at violent behavior in children and adolescents as a social practice by focusing on the connection between the behavior that is valued in the society versus the behavior that is valued directly with peers and the community in which the youth belongs.  However, one thing that the psychological and sociological perspectives have in common is that they all agree on the development of these types of behaviors start at an early age during adolescent development.  Anthropologist study the differences in the behaviors and also incorporate connections between youth violence and media, whether movies, news, television shows or game playing.  (Edberg and Bourgois, 2012)

Interdisciplinary perspective
Youth violence is an emerging concern and a complex issue and a sound approach is necessary to reduce the number of youth participating in youth violence, which will further reduce the number of crimes that are committed.  An interdisciplinary approach would incorporate psychological, sociological and anthropological perspectives in order to determine the best preventative measures or strategies.  Since violence is a health and social welfare issue to countries all around the world, the United States of America has particularly taken interest in preventing the growth of youth violence.  The California Department of Health Services, for instance, has developed programs that support violence prevention at the community level.  In addition, the California Wellness Foundation invested in forming programs specifically geared towards youth violence prevention.  From these programs, researchers analyzed the different underlying causes of youth violence.

After much needed data analysis, researchers suggested that the interdisciplinary approach be implemented in prevention programs for youth violence.  The interdisciplinary approach supports the need for collaboration between different fields such as health, education and the law in regard to youth violence.  In addition, it is supported that the philosophical, political and resource perspectives also be evaluated in order to treat the youth in prevention programs.  (Cohen et al.)

The interdisciplinary approach seems logical because all of the psychological, sociological and anthropological perspectives review different forms of where exactly the youth violence is stemming from, such as parents, home life, and school life, as well as peers.  Therefore, it combining all of these factors and figuring out the exact group of individuals seems the logical path for preventing youth violence.   For instance, the different perspectives lead to different types of research and acquired data.  An example is public health.  The public health system looks for risk facts, mortality and morbidity rates; whereas, psychologists at a school are more concerned with the harm done to the children, school suspensions and test scores.  The purpose of combining these approaches would be to a comprehensive path and to integrate the approaches in order to address the complexity of the violence being committed by the youth in that particular community.  (Cohen et al.)

Overall, when evaluating the different types of perspectives, they are all interconnected at some point, whether looking at behavior from a psychological perspective or a sociological perspective.  It is also known that the collaboration of these perspectives is not overnight and requires the participation of different organizations and professional individuals in order to determine the at-risk youth and implement a proper prevention program.  Again, youth violence is a real concern within the United States, as well as around the world.  Continuous effort evaluating the prevention methods and incorporating the different perspectives is a good step forward to the decrease of youth violence world-wide.  (Cohen, et al.)

References

Bandura A. (1986).  Social Foundations of Thought and Action: A Social Cognitive Theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

CDC.  (1999).  1999.  Strategies to prevent youth violence. Chapter 2. Social Cognitive Stragety. Artville, LLC. Pps 119-205.

Cultural Anthropology.  (2012).  Youth.  Available at: http://www.culanth.org/?q=node/118.

Edberg M. and Bourgois P.  (2012).  Street Markets, Adolescent Identity and Violence: A Generative Dynamic. R Rosenfeld and M Edberg, eds, Youth Violence and Economic Conditions, forthcoming.

FAN: The Child Mental Health Foundations and Agencies Network.   (2000). A good beginning: Sending America’s children to school with the social and emotional competence they need to succeed. Washington, D.C.: National Institute of Mental Health.

Guerra, N.   (2005). Youth Crime Prevention.  The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development / The World Bank.  Available at: www.oas.org/…/Final_Youth_%20Violence_%20Prev_%20ENG.pdf

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) (2000). Child and adolescent violence research at NIMH. Washington, D.C.: NIMH (http://www.nimh.nih.giv/publicat/violenceresfact.cfm)

Cohen, A. et al. Shifting the Focus: An Interdiciplinary Framework for Advancing Violence Prevention. Prevention Institute.  Available at: http://thrive.preventioninstitute.org/shifting.html

WHO. World Report on Violence and Health.  www.whqlibdoc.who.int/publications/2002/9241545615_chap2_eng.pdf

ISPN. (2001).  Prevention of Youth Violence.  Visionary Leadership for Psychiatric-Mental

Health Nurses Around the World. International Society of Psychiatrtic-Mental Health Nurses. Position Paper, March 2001. Pp 4.  Available at: www.ispn-psych.org/docs/3-01-youthviolence.pdf.

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