September 3, 2013
By Judith Woodward
Health Promotion Officer
U.S. Army Public Health Command
Violence among young people is one of the most visible forms of violence in our society. If you turn on the news or open a news article, there are daily examples of gang violence, violence in schools, or reports of bullying.
When you hear about youth violence, you may think to yourself, "Violence could never happen to me. No one would ever hurt my brother or sister, my friend or child." Surprisingly, youth violence affects not only the victims, but impacts families, friends and members of the entire community.
Youth violence can include many behaviors. Some violent behaviors may cause emotional harm--such as name-calling, hitting, sexual harassment, slapping, bullying or cyber bullying (comments made over social media like Web pages, e-mail, Facebook or Twitter). Other violent behaviors may cause more physical harm--such as fighting or physical/sexual assault (with or without weapons) and can lead to serious injury or even death.
The ultimate goal is to stop the violence before it begins. Maybe you think there is nothing you could do that would help youth who are involved in violence. Whether you are a youth, interact with youth regularly, or are just a part of your community, there are many simple things you can do to focus on making the community a safe place. Here are a few easy guidelines and ideas that you can use each day to focus on youth violence prevention:
•Talk to a friend or family member today about the impact of bullying.
•Reach out to someone today who may be unreached--you can do this at school, after work or even at the grocery store.
•Plan ahead for ways to cool down when you get angry.
•Go for a walk or a bicycle ride to positively release anger and stress.
Resolve Disagreements Peacefully
•Identify conflicts in your life or history that were resolved peacefully.
•Think of various ways that you can become a good listener.
•Think ahead about a plan if you or someone you know becomes involved in a violent act--how should you respond, where will you go, who will you tell?
•Avoid risky behaviors like being in an unsafe place late at night, or playing with any type of weapon.
•Avoid gangs and questionable individuals.
•Be part of a community watch program.
Unite in Action
•Take part in an Adopt-a-Child or Big Brother/Big Sister type program--where positive mentors are paired with younger people.
•Organize a community service project that brings people together to make a large impact on a school or community--painting a playground or cleaning up a park are a few ideas.
Whether you are a youth, work closely with youth, or simply live in a community with youth, working together as a community is the best way to address any challenge. By taking a few simple steps, your actions can deter youth violence every day of the year.