Violence in Teens
If you see these immediate warning signs, violence is a serious possibility:
- loss of temper on a daily basis
- frequent physical fighting
- significant vandalism or property damage
- increase in use of drugs or alcohol
- increase in risk-taking behavior
- detailed plans to commit acts of violence
- announcing threats or plans for hurting others
- enjoying hurting animals
- carrying a weapon
If you notice the following signs, over a period of time, the potential for violence exists:
- a history of violent or aggressive behavior
- serious drug or alcohol use
- gang membership or strong desire to be in a gang
- access to or fascination with weapons, especially guns
- threatening others regularly
- trouble controlling feelings like anger
- withdrawal from friends and usual activities
- feeling rejected or alone
- having been a victim of bullying
- poor school performance
- history of discipline problems or frequent run-ins with authority
- feeling constantly disrespected
- failing to acknowledge the feelings or rights of others
Here are some ways to deal with anger without resorting to violence:
Learn to talk about your feelings: if you are afraid to talk or if you can’t find the right words to describe what you are going through, find a trusted friend or adult to help you one-on-one.
Express yourself calmly: express criticism, disappointment, anger or displeasure without losing your temper or fighting. Ask yourself if your response is safe and reasonable.
Listen to others: listen carefully and respond without getting upset when someone gives you negative feedback. Ask yourself if you can really see the other person’s point of view.
Negotiate: work out your problems with someone else by looking at alternative solutions and compromises.
Anger is a part of life, but you can free yourself from the cycle of violence by learning to talk about your feelings. Be strong. Be safe. Be cool.
reprinted courtesy of Tracy Todd, Ph.D., LMFT- Brief Therapy Institute of Denver.