Violence has become very rampant among the youths especially those in the adolescent stage between the age of 12 and 19. This can be attributed to several factors as this essay will show. It should be remembered that this is the stage in which one is trying to break away from childhood and establish his own identity.
Do parents, school and individuals’ personality have a bearing on an adolescent predisposition to violence or otherwise? Failure to understand these three aspects has led to wrong social interventions that have even being harmful. For purposes of organization, this essay will be divided into several numbered parts.
Title and full citation
This report is informed by the reading of a book called “Youth violence: A report of the Surgeon General”. More specifically, the report will analyze chapter 4 titled “Risk factors for youth violence.”
Summary of the book
The book explains that violence among adolescents increase when they attain the age of 10. It gets worse when they are around 18 and lessens as they approach their early adulthood. Some adolescents carry this violent behavior from their childhood. Out of a hundred adolescents, 50 get involved in violence when they are between the age of 15 and 19.
Several reasons can be given as to why violence begins at this age. In development, several emotional and physical changes occur. This alters the way and pattern in which the young person was relating with others. The adolescent yearns for liberty and aspires to be seen differently.
He also wants competencies that would help him adapt to the wider world. This is when he begins to negotiate rules that he had followed before thereby creating potential conflict with the parents. Similarly, he gets more friends who take over the place of his parents.
Acclimatizing to the changes in status, social contexts, and relationships may generate stress to adolescents. The stress may emanate from feelings of anger, rejection, and despair which may be real or perceived. Failure to live up to the expectations of the society (its norms and rules), parents, teachers, and even peers may lead to feelings of inadequacy.
In order to regain this respect and get attention, the adolescents engage in violence. They may also plunge into violence as a way of rejecting the adult world and its rules. Though not a guarantee, better relations between parents and children will have a positive effect on the often difficult transition to adolescence.
Exposure of adolescents to domestic violence makes them emotionally vulnerable and hence more predisposed to react violently as a preemptive to imminent threats. Such vulnerabilities undermine self-confidence, self-esteem, and lead to feelings of despondency and hopelessness.
Self-believe is very vital in this developmental stage and if it is sloughed off by feelings of fear, depression, anxiety, and guilt, adolescents are likely to be violent in the face of perceived threats. Fagan & Wilkinson (1998) observe that adolescents with violence exposure are more predisposed to perpetrate similar acts.
The individual personality is an equally important factor when it comes to likelihood of being involved in violent acts. Adolescents who are generally aggressive are more likely to commit a violent act than those who are not. Boys have been found to be more aggressive and hence more violent than girls.
This can be attributed to various reasons. To start with, males identify with roles models that are socially aggressive. Moreover, unlike girls, boys have been exposed to more violent acts than boys (Fagan & Wilkinson, 1998). The aggression takes two forms; verbal and physical.
Psychological factors such as short attention span, dare-devil attitude, and being impulsive have an effect on the likelihood of engaging in violence. Individuals who are hyperactive are more predisposed to physical violence as they are restless and generally perform poorly in school.
Similarly, persons with anti-social attitudes such as dishonesty, petty stealing, hostility to authority, and tendency to break the rules commit even bigger and violent acts (Office of the Surgeon General, 2001).
The education system in many countries encourages attainment of better grades and therefore leads to intense competition among students. Those who fail to attain the expected grades feel incompetent. To rebel against standards they can not conform to, they engage in violence.
Strength of the book
The strength of the book lies in it credibility. The writer explains that the data informing the book is from two sources, that is, arrest reports and self reports.
In the first method of data collection, the writer visits law enforcement agencies and asks for information on arrest, the crime leading to arrest and the volumes. In the second method, information is sought from the youths themselves. Though not objective, it indicates that most crimes are unreported.
Deficiencies of the reading
The book is wanting in its approach to violence in school. It assumes that only intelligence quotient is responsible for better grades in school. This is in spite of the glaring realities that other factors too immensely affect performances. These factors include motivation and learning readiness. It also fails to give specific and convincing reasons as to why minority races are more predisposed to violence than their majority counterparts.
Suggestions to the author
The challenge to the author of the book will be to carry out a thorough and credible research on the effects of genes on violence. This would lend more credence to his suppositions that sex may have something to do with violence. Secondly, it would be better if the author consider a broad spectrum of issues when tackling schools and violence.
In conclusion, the essay has examined the various predisposing factors to adolescents’ violence including the family, school, and individual personality. It has done so by analyzing a reading titled Youth violence: A report of the Surgeon General. It can be said that the three aspects have a bearing to violence but future studies need to be done holistically so that proper social interventions may be instituted.
Fagan, J., & Wilkinson, D(1998). Social contexts and functions of adolescent violence. In D. S. Elliott, B. A. Hamburg, & K. R. Williams (Eds.), Violence in American schools: A new perspective (pp. 55-93). New York: Cambridge University Press.
Office of the Surgeon General (2001). Youth Violence: A Report of the Surgeon General. (DEST no.44300).