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Parental tips for teen violence PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Sajini Sahadevan   

In Germany a teenager kills 16, leaving the world reeling. But is there a reason for teen violence? City experts talk about the problem and solutions

On examining the history of the world, one will find that it has been fraught with violence. It is often in conquest of land or to quench the insatiable thirst to hoard wealth. But how does one explain a random act of violence; one to which no sensible explanation can be offered? Many a time, the accused is a teenager or young adult, where innocent strangers lose their lives. It could be the result of a sudden burst of temper, or years of pent-up anger.

"Violence starts at home. Often, parents are impatient and don't spend even a minute with their child to provide answers that satisfy their curiosity. It may not be significant then, but when a parent slaps his child and asks them to keep quiet, it leads to anger and a suppression of emotion. Children watch what is happening around them, in the adult world. What they see is imitated in their actions," says Jason D'Souza, a businessman who has a 15-year-old son. "Happenings in society have an effect on the way children behave. Parents are to be blamed to a certain extent. Especially these days, when both parents are employed and do not have the time and attention to spare for their children," says Sunil Babu, purchase manager at a hotel, and father to 16-year-old Nived.

Parents feel that external factors like the media are also to be blamed: "Virtual reality plays a large role in influencing children. Look around, there's violence everywhere. The videogames that children play have plenty of action that is violent in nature," says D'Souza.

"The pub culture, the media, and the Internet, are all capable of influencing a child's behaviour. Parents need to keep a check on what their children do. Things like keeping the television in the living room, instead of the kid's bedroom, will make him understand that his actions are being monitored. He will be less tempted to do anything inappropriate," adds Babu. His son, Nived, a class 12 student at Vagdevi Vilas School, however, feels that violent behaviour cannot be restricted to teenagers alone: "It needn't be because he is a teenager. The reasons could differ. It depends on a person's character and upbringing. It might have been a sudden reaction to something he couldn't tolerate anymore." Nived, in fact, feels a situation can be handled by staying calm, thinking over the situation, understanding the problem, and not reacting suddenly.

"Similar incidents have happened in our country as well. In the US, it is because teenagers invariably have access to firearms. Stricter gun control is required in such places. In India, people have access to pesticides. It provokes people to harm themselves. There has been a dramatic rise in violence among teenagers, especially boys, as, at that age, they are more prone to depression," says Dr Vikram Prabhu, psychiatrist, Sagar Hospital. "It is a phase of transition, where they may be having an identity crisis. Most times, it is found that such children are victims of their own minds. Other factors include feeling very anxious or like they have been treated unfairly by society, being bullied by others, having a history of abuse or suffering from mood disorder," he adds.

Teenagers with a history of impulsive behaviour, poor tolerance of frustration, and those who don't seek help, will eventually explode by expressing their feelings in a random fashion or engaging in a reckless act.

Dr Prabhu says the best predictor of future violence is a past history of such acts: "It needn't necessarily be physical. Shouting abuse is a form of verbal violence. Kids showing signs of aggression, depression, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), those who repeatedly get into trouble with the law or authorities at school or have a history of alcohol or substance abuse are at an increased risk of violent acts.

The best way is to talk to wrong-doers. They cannot entirely be blamed. They are, after all, juveniles."


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