Friday, December 5, 2008

The Roots of Youth Violence

Written by: Mitch Zeltzer

Violence involving our youth is obviously a serious issue that is of great concern for most parents, educators, and children. Everyday, it seems, stories in the news remind us that youth violence is on the rise. In recent years, a lot of attention has gone toward Character Education to help the youth make better life choices, and in turn should help reduce youth violence. I feel, that we need to take Character Education to the next level and push toward Character DEVELOPMENT. It's the difference between 'telling' children about the right choices in life and guiding them through difficult 'experiences' that show them first hand the consequences of our actions... both good and bad!

I recently came across a very interesting review that was established by the Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty in June 2007. The review - which can be found here- identified five youth risk factors for involvement in serious violence.

These 5 risk factors are:
  1. a deep sense of alienation and low self-esteem
  2. little empathy for others and suffer from impulsivity
  3. belief that they are oppressed, held down, unfairly treated and neither belong to nor have a stake in the broader society
  4. belief that they have no way to be heard through other channels
  5. no sense of hope

So, I guess the challenge to all of us out there -whether you are an educator, parent, camp counsellor, youth league coach, or even an older sibling- is what are we doing to help minimize these risk factors? What are you doing for the youth to boost self-esteem, develop empathy, create a sense of belonging, and motivate?

Please share your thoughts, techniques, ideas, and methods by posting a comment to this message.

Let us collaborate to find a solution! An old saying we have here at Dynamix is: "Great minds think TOGETHER!"

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