The attitude of many teenagers is that an action isn’t wrong unless they get caught. They feel there are no boundaries that cannot be crossed and unless taught by their parents, they feel nothing is sacred. Parents and educators who try to put boundaries on teens become the adversary. Adults who question and criticize their choices are often labeled ‘judgers’ and ‘haters.’ In the media, they have been taught tolerance to the point of having no spiritual convictions or personal standards.
Young people go through a stage where they feel invincible, so gangs deliberately foster the myth of invincibility that only age and experience can normally dispel. Power is addictive, and many young people like the rush they get. Teens are very much influenced by the peers and the media. The music, videos, games, etc. are filling their minds and souls. As concerned citizens, the community has to take a role in helping prevent violence and redirecting the youth to a different way of life.
As soon as a teen in inducted into a gang, they are expected to perform crimes such as home invasions, brutal attacks, rape, murder or carjacking as a form of initiation. The psychological affect on the teen becomes overwhelming. This brings the new member’s own innocence to a halt and their self-esteem gets shattered. They then become a like-minded participant in the deeds. Once a new member does something like this and gets away with it, there’s usually some kind of tangible reward, such as money or stolen goods, as well as the applause and praise by other members for their courage and loyalty. When a young person is the center of a hero party atmosphere, it’s difficult to resist.
Parents should be the main influence in their teens’ lives, but unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen. There are parents who are trying to be responsible parents but just don’t know how to be the parent that their child needs them to be. Parents can get help in the community they live in by contacting associations that offer help with teen violence. Community awareness is an important aspect of preventing youths from becoming involved in violent activities. A program like STRYVE, or Striving To Reduce Youth Violence Everywhere, is a national initiative led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to prevent youth violence before it starts among young people ages 10 to 24. STRYVE’s vision is safe and healthy youth who can achieve their full potential as connected and contributing members of thriving, violence-free families, schools, and communities. STRYVE’s goals are to:
Increase awareness that youth violence can and should be prevented.
Promote the use of youth violence prevention approaches that are based upon the best available evidence. Provide guidance to communities on how to prevent youth violence.
Vetoviolence, retrieved on Oct.6, 2014 from: http://vetoviolence.cdc.gov/stryve/about_stryve.html
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