Friday, 1 July 2016

Ending the Epidemic of Youth Gun Violence

Something that occurs amoungst our youth more often than it should is the issue and violence and gun violence. Over the last decade or so, the world has seen more and more mass shootings, with tragedies happening on a daily basis.

We know that teens love to live on the edge. The reason they love dangerous and risky behaviour all goes back to their developing brain, peer pressure and their longing feeling to belong to something. In the past no one really took it serious, often saying "kids will be kids", but as time goes by we see that this type of violent behaviour has become more of a common thing that is causing havoc in our communities.

The key to understanding the situation, may be the fact that illegal guns and weapons are becoming more and more easy to obtain, causing fights and confrontations to turn into fatal acts. Back in the earlier years, fist fights would rarely ever result in deaths, but with guns so easily available, each time a violent episode occurs a young person's life could be ruined forever.

The sadness and grief that families feel when they have lost a loved one cannot even be imagined by those have never experienced it. However the victim's family is not the only ones who are effected. The criminal's family have lost a life that could have been great, without jail time, but because of gun violence it has become a lifelong punishment.

So what can we do to stop this bleeding from youth violence and homicide?

The prime time for the youth to commit violent acts is after school and usually before midnight. In the hours after school, there is enough time for a teen to take drugs, drink alcohol, engage in gang activity and commit violent acts.

The insulation afforded by today's interpersonal communication channels, such as texting and social media, also likely carries over to the realm of violence. Having to injure someone by hand may make the situation real; having a gun to psychologically distance one’s psyche from the consequence may make pulling the trigger easier in times of boredom and hopelessness.

Getting teens into programs that don't offer unstructured free time, where they can be active with adult supervision and exposed to positive adult role models, may help mind the gap during the high-risk time of day. NICRO is a non-profit organisation committed to turning the lives of our youth around. NICRO offers a variety of services and programmes that deal with young offenders and parents who are in need of some help.

Funding NICRO and these types of programmes may be a quicker step. Starting youth into these programmes before they have gone down a road of violent behaviour has the best chance of keeping them on the straight and narrow. As has been stated by others, it is easier and less expensive to build a child than to rebuild a teen who has strayed into high-risk and violent behaviour.

Society must, to some degree, take on the role of collective parenting, with each member taking some responsibility for supporting all of our children, not just the ones who live in our own house. A return to the models of old might just have some new outcomes.

Youth should not be ending up in graves or prison cells. They have so much talent and promise to bring to society, as well as energy and excitement that when properly channelled, could guide the future in a positive way.

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