Watching the news on television or reading the newspaper exposes you to unfortunately too many stories involving violence among young people. And the violence, according to those stories, is something that occurred on the streets, in their homes and, sad to say, sometimes even in their schools.
Wherever the location, though, you can be sure of one thing and that is that the story in the news makes it clear that violence can happen to anyone. Another thing that people researching the facts behind such stories agree on is that certain behaviors have a tendency of putting some people at a higher than average risk of being injured or injuring others.
In the surveys these researchers have put together are even listed some of the things they found that are apt to get the young people they studied in trouble. They found, for example, that it’s not wise to associate with peers who may frequently engage in illegal activities or with those who have attitudes about violence that are inappropriate. They found that these attitudes may include romantic relationships where male abuse and domination of women is accepted.
The use of alcohol or drugs shouldn’t be overlooked as a very definite potential for being involved in problems where violence is concerned. That goes not only for a person who is not using them but also goes for associating with friends who do. Experts on the subject will report that their use are a large part of many violent situations since they inhibit common sense. People who are under the influence of either are more likely to become involved in physical confrontations.
According to a report from the U.S. Justice Department, most people who carry weapons believe that they need them for protection. On the contrary, though, it’s been found that dangerous weapons have the potential to turn an otherwise harmless argument into one that results in serious injuries or even death. Needless to say, then, not possessing a weapon may be the best way to go. Even without the presence of a weapon, though, solving a problem by fighting sometimes results in homicides when the people involved don’t know how to back down to get out of a confrontation.
It goes without saying that getting involved in gang activity is definitely a high risk behavior. There are some young people who get involved with gangs in the mistaken belief that it gives them protection. On the contrary, because of gang involvement in drug dealing, weapons and other illegal activities , the potential for violence actually increases and gang members may be attacked by members of rival gangs. There are other things that can bring about violence — things such as dropping out of school and being unemployed which can cause boredom which, in turn, can cause trouble.
Another high risk behavior that has the potential of causing problems for young people is to appear to be vulnerable. You may, for example, have a possession of which you’re especially proud. It could be an expensive piece of jewelry or other valuables that you want to show off. Keep in mind, though, that displaying the item openly can cause you to be attacked for them. It’s also unwise to take shortcuts through alleys or walk alone in other unsafe places. Another thing is not to leave yourself open to problems by having as little contact as possible with potential attackers and that includes conversation.
Learn to practice tolerance towards people who may be different. It’s a proven fact that violent hate crimes are often based on prejudice and bigotry toward people of a different race, religion or gender. Hopefully you are not affected by such feelings but such feelings are strong in some and it’s not wise to become involved in confrontations with those people.
While we can’t always control everything in our surroundings, these are just some of the ways that we can use to minimize or offset their consequences. There are probably others but these, at least, are worth thinking about.
— Johnny Hunt is the superintendent of the Public Schools of Robeson County.