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Who to blame for young people's violent behaviour

By Spiros Tzelepis

Investing the reasons of youth violence.

Modern societies experience an increasing rate of violence year after year. Although violence was always part of human societies, what seems more threatening nowadays is the fact that more and more young people are involved in violent actions even at an early age.

During the last year all mankind was shocked by the events in the American and Canadian schools where young students attacked their teachers and schoolmates without any obvious reason.

The statistics on the phenomenon speak:

According to Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), a school-based survey designed to produce a nationally representative sample of risk behaviors among students in grades 9-12 in USA in 1997:

(information provided by Youth Violence and Suicide Prevention Team)

What makes young people turn into crime and violence? This question is not easy to be answered as it is relevant to a variety of reasons which are interrelated and form the structure of modern societies. Therefore if we want to find out what makes these young people "shoot" society, we have to investigate its structure.

  1. Young people live in a society which has neither beliefs nor ideology ; they try to find something to believe in, to find values, but they cannot. This situation creates "nihilism" to them and many times creates fanaticism which leads to violent actions.
  2. Young people try to find a way to channel the redundant amount of energy they have and as they have no other way, they try to ruin the "system".They deny the social system and because of this they want to destroy it.The more they refuse to accept the system the more they want to destroy it. Here is a collection of what young people have written in various walls of my city.
    "We have nothing"
    "We are nothing"
    "There is nothing"
    "There is nothing for me"
    "We do not believe in anything"
    "We do not belong anywhere"
    "We are punk because we do not like anything"
    "I am bored; stop the world because I want to get off it"
    Please notice the repetition of the word "nothing", open your ears to hear the desperate voice of those young people who have nothing to believe in life and then it will be easy for you to understand their behavior.
  3. Young people want social acceptance in a world which considers "possessing" a necessary presupposition for "being " and values only money. Everyday they receive a shower of advertisements which promote the model of the "successful people"; the dreamy world of luxury cars and impressive dresses. It is easy for everyone to understand that the average teenager will turn into crime in order to obtain a position in this world when the circumstances of his family do not support him.
  4. What do young people experience around them? A society where the person with power is the person with money; values are abolished; human rights are violated; lives are not respected. All these are sacrificed for money. How can we expect for them to be different when this is what they are taught everyday?
  5. The Media familiarize young people with violence.They highlight the model of the powerful violent person. Even the model of the "good man" who enforces the law (the anti-violence) does nothing more than to expand this situation as the legal defence is violence, too. Scientists claim that nine out of ten criminals are "constructed"
  6. Young people encircled in hostile cities without immediate contact with nature, pressed by the lack of time feel a threat around them. Feelings of psychological pressure lead them to antisocial behavior.
  7. Adults find it enjoying to give toys and games which promote violence to their kids. On the other hand they allow them to watch violent films and sometimes they accept their violent behavior.They do not understand that this way as kids get older, they will continue to play other violent games in real life this time.

    Here is what an official organization mentions as factors of causing violent behavior to young people:





    history of early aggression

    beliefs supportive of violence

    social cognitive deficits

    poor monitoring or supervision of children

    exposure to violence

    parental drug/alcohol abuse

    poor emotional attachment to parents or caregivers

    associate with peers engaged in high-risk or problem behavior

    low commitment to school

    academic failure

    poverty and diminished economic opportunity

    high levels of transiency and family disruption

    exposure to violence

    Table taken from the US National Center for Injury Prevention and Control Division of Violence Prevention.

    If the world does not do anything to redress the wrongs and acquire moral values and if we do not enrich our lives with the love for other human beings, we won't be surprised to hear about and watch more crimes committed by young people.

    "Without love the world is an endless lonliness"

    Albert Camus

    The table and the statistics were taken from the Youth Violence Fact Sheet at http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/dvp/yvpt/newfacts.htm by the Youth Violence and Suicide Prevention Team at the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, USA.

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