Teen violence

Referat, Hausaufgabe, Teen violence
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Teen violence

What causes teen violence?

Nature Versus Nurture: Some scientists say that some people are born with a tendency to be violent because of their genetic makeup or other biological factors, such as brain chemicals or neurological damage. Other scientists think that because of the high levels of the hormon testosterone, which is a male hormon, men are more aggressive than women.

A psychology professor found out that criminals are born rather than made. But some experts think that children and teens are taught to be violent by aspects of culture in which they live. (USA = gun culture) They say that a person because of his gens has got a tendency toward violence, but that alone is not enough to cause them to act in violent ways.

Guns: Some people think that the easy availability of guns is a big or main problem of teen violence. Because a lot of shootings can’t occur if it isn’t so easy to get guns. Today in America there are 200 millions gun in that society. There are several reasons why guns are so dangerous in the hands of teenagers. First the teenagers can’t contrl their emotions and impulses. Secondly, they don’t know the full consequences. In America the leading cause of death for black males between the age of 15 and 19 are gun shootings.

Personal Responsibility: But not only the g uns are the problem. Why do teens pick up guns and use them against other people? A lot of people think that the teens do so, because they lack the sense of personal responsibility. Morgan Reynolds, the director of the Criminal Justice Center, says that the teens lose the sense of morality and empathy

The Role of Parents: Parents are frequently blamed for failing to teach their children the importance of good and wrong and personal responsibility. It is also said that the cause of teen violence is the failure of parents to discipline their children.

Familie Breakdown: Why can’t the parents raise their children proberly? Not every child has got two parents, The number of single mother has increased very dramatically. Therefore the young boys and girls are left without the support and discipline of fathers. The consequence of being without a father can be tragic. While girls without fathers are more likely to become pregnant at an early age, fatherless boys are more likely to join gangs. You can ask a lot of teenagers who did violent crimes and who have not seen their fathers for a long time because they are in prison, which role their your fathers played in their lives.

Most of them will say :“ No role at all.“ But Clarence Page, a reporter who is very interested in teen violence wrote:“ It is not the quantity of the parents, but the quality of parenting that counts.“

Media Violence: Media violence is also blamed for teen violence. Because a lot of teens want do be like some actors and therefore they do the same things that the actor do in the film. But experts say that the teens who do the things which happen in the films, live in another world, but not in the real world.

Crazy Murder: A expert thinks that a crazy murderer likes weapons, violence against animals, and is interested in settings fires or making bombs. Every teen who shot some people in school was interested in such things and all of them were teased by somebody. And in addition, all of the boys were having psychological, emotional or social problems at the time of the shootings.

Poverty: Experts agree that poverty is root cause of violence. In 1993, 40 million Americans lived below the official poverty line. Half of these are children and 60 percent of them are nonwhite. If single-parent families are more likely to raise teens who commit voilence, it is because such families are more likely to be poor.

Inner-City Violence: Inner-City Violence is a large problem for minority teens. The minority teens are not only doing more crimes than white teens, but they are more often victims of crimes than white teenagers. There the youths see no hope for the future, they feel suicidal and they do not know how to escape from the violence except by being violent or taking drugs or drinking alcohol. 68 percent of black babies are born to single mothers. And most of them live in poverty. They haven’t got any hope for the future, because they know that it is very hard to get a legal job. Most of the teens in the inner city belong to a gang. There drug dealing is an attractive job, because you can make a lot of money very easily and fast. But every gang knows that and every gang wants to controll the biggest area to earn a lot of money. Therefor there earn a lot of money.

But teen violence cannot be attributed to a single cause!!

Teen Vilence is a Serious Problem:

The assumption that teen violence is upswinging is supported by statistics. The violent crimes by youths have risen dramatically. Juvenile homicide has increased 144 percent, juvenile rape has increased 25 percent and the cases of aggravated assaults by juvenile has increased 134 percent. Teen violence commit a large part of America’s violent crime. (19 percent) Also Girls are increasingly involved in violent crimes, including gang violence. The number of arrested youths because of violent crimes is 60 percent above the figures in 1987.

Today’s Teens are more Callous: The nature of the crimes has also changed. Today the teenagers shoot rival gang members and torture their robbery and rape victims. A proof for this is an article in Newsweek. A reporter described how six teenage gang members in Housten raped and murdered two young girls. The dead bodies of the girls were found four days later after the crime. The police arrested the boys and they didn’t feel any remorse. Such crimes are reported in the papers every day. It shows that today the youths lack conscience. They don’t know the difference between right and wrong. The parents are blamed for the violence, because they don’t or they can’t teach their children the difference between right and wrong.

Today the youths lack the values that hold society together.

The Problem of Teen Violence has been Exaggerated

American adults believe that the adolescent are responsible for 43 percent of violent crimes in the United States. But in fact, young people are responsible for (only) 13 percent of such crimes.

Teen violence has been rising, but because of the hysterical news reporting you think that it is much higher than it is in reality. In the papers you can read that teens are becoming more violent and that they are a subhuman species of cold-blooded criminals who are capable of killing without pity or remorse.

Adults commit Most violent crimes: In truth, it is adults who commit the vast majority of violent crimes. 81 percent of the arrested people are adults. But they also do of the most crimes against young people. 60 percent of the murdered teens are killed by adults and not by other teens.

How can Teen Violence be reduced?

Punishment is the solution to Teen Violence: Many people believe that when teenagers commit violent crimes, they only want to have some attention. Their behavior is a cry for help. They youths should be punished, but the punishment should help the criminals and not just discipline them. Because of that most of the teens escape real punishment. The youths undergo a group therapy or vocational training and do other things, but they don’t get real punishment. After that they can go home and they have got a second chance. Many of the youths who are sentenced to prison are real criminals who feel no remorse fo their crimes. In 1972 6 percent of the juvenile population was responsible for two-thirds of the violent juvenile crime in Philadelphia. And those kids have got five or more contacts with the police. This is an unacceptable risk for society. It is said that the juveniles justice institutions must give up their fantasy that all violent juveniles can be reformed. There are at least two reasons why society should mete act real punishment toward juvenile crimes. The first and most important is public safety. A lot of teens will be victims by teen criminals. The second reason is that it will send a signal to other teens that because of violent behavior you will lose your liberty for much of your adult life.

Prevention is the solution to teen violence:

Many politicians argue that the best solution to the problem of teen violence is to crack down on violent teenage criminals. They also want to build more prisons to arrest the teens for a longer time period. With that they want to protect society from the violent youths.

But the answer to the juvenile violence problem is not to wait for such violence to occur and then lock up the kids and throw the key away. The solution is to prevent such violence from taking place.

Neglect and abused children have an increased risk of commiting violence. Therefore there is a home visitation program. Because of that program people visit children who are at risk of abuse or neglect and they control the parents. The OJJDP (Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention) want to interrupt the cycle of violence in America.

But the kids who show us the first signs of trouble should also be controlled, because it is better to do something early than to wait until serious problems have occured.

Such signals are: running away, skipping school, or showing signs of abuse or neglect.

An example for prevention:

Rita Jacksen founded the Northeast Performing Arts (NEPA) in one of the poorest regions of the New York. It is a public house to which a lot of teens can come and where drama and dance classes are held. This was a good idea because more than 1200 youths attended that program and most of them attended college after that embarhed on a and some of them had got a successful arts career.

Now many other organizations have got a similar function and this organization bring teens away from violence and toward success.

The real challenge for America is not to how many jails we can build, but how many kids we can save!!


  1. Teen Violence: This book is by Scott Barbour and it is about teen violence in America. The book informs the reade about the causes teen violence and how teen violence can be reduced. The book gives answers to a lot of other questionsof this topic.
  2. The Outsiders: This book is by S.E. Hinton. It is about two gangs who fight against each other. The one gang is called Greasers and the gang members are poor. The other gang is called socs. They are rich and they are bored. Because of that they drive into the area of the Greasers to look for people who they can beat down. Once Pony and Johny want to go home. But then the Socs appear and they want to beat Pony and Johny up. But Johny takes his knife and kills one of the Socs. Then they have to go away and they have got a lot of troubles.
  3. Among the thugs: This book is by Bill Buford, who is a journalist. He is an American and has lived in England since 1977. He is the editor of the literary magazine Granata.One day he decides to serach for the reasons of violence. He writes down his experiences in his book "Among The Thugs". This book is separated in 3 parts. Part one of the book deals with football hooliganism, part two tackles the promblem of nationalism, and part three deals again with football hooliganism.
  4. The Chocolate War: The author of this book is Rober Cormier. The book is about a boy who is called Renault and who attends a new school. In that school he is a freshmen and there he hast got several problems. One problem is a teacher who is called Brother Leon and who likes to bully his pupils. His second big problem are The Vigils. The Vigils is a secret club in that school and they force a lot of pupils to do certain things. And afterwards the pupils have got a lot of problems. Once The Vigils say that he isn’t allowed to sell some chocolate boxes, which everybody has to do. In the end because of the Vigils he has got a fight with a stronger and more powerful boy. The main characters of the book are Renault, Brother Leon and Archie.


  • Murderer at 11: This article is about a 13 years old boy who is called Nathaniel Abraham. Two years ago he went out with a rifle and shot an innocent stranger. At the trail his lawyer said that he lacked the mental capacity to be held resonsibile for his actions. But he was convicted. Now he is the youngest American who is convicted as an adult.
    The New York Times
    Published: 18.11.1999
  • What can we do?: This article is about the high school shootings and how the teachers can reduce the violent actions in schools. Therefore there is violence-prevention program founded which is called Second Step. And this program really works and because of the Second Step there have been less violent incidents in schools.
    Published: June 1999
  • The Columbine Tape: This article is about Harris and Klebold, who planed a real massacre in ther school. They knew the other high school shottings in Oregon and Kentucky. But they wanted to do more than that. They wanted to kill at least 250 people. Harris and Klebold built three bombs and they bought some rifles. But the bombs didn’t explode and therefore they “only“ klilled 15 people.
    Harris and Klebold had taken their plan of the massacre up on some video tapes and they did the shooting, beause they were full of rage and they wanted to become famous. They wanted that everyone remembers that day which they called their Judgment Day.


1.) What causes teen violence?

2.) What are the main problems of teen violence?

4.) Should the teens be punished as hard as adults?

  • How can teen violence be reduced?
  • What are prevention possibilities?
  • Why did Bill Buford write his book and what did he find out?
  • What consequences had the killing for Johny in the book “The Outsiders“?
  • Who had to see the warning signals of Harris and Klebold?


Title Author Published Publishing company

  • Teen violence Scott Babour 1999 Opposing Vewpoints
  • Among the Thugs Bill Buford 1991 Mandarin
  • The Outsiders S.H. Hinton
    The Chocolate War Robert Cormier 1974 Laurel-Leaf Library


  • Murderer At 11? Keith Bradsher 18.11.1999 The New York Times
  • What can we do? Claudia Dowling June 1999 Life
  • The Columbine Tape Nancy Gibbs 20.12.1999 Time

Reading List:

  • Dr.Jekyl & Mr. Hyde Stevenson 1991 Oxford University Press Desperado Robert Rodriguez 1995 Columbia Tristar
  • Godzilla Stephen Molstad 1998 Harper Prism
  • Go ask Alice Anonymous 1972 Arrow Books
  • Night without end Alistair MacLean 1959 Oxford University Press

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