In the United States, there is a prevalence of children and young adults, beginning as young as 15, who carry and are in possession of firearms. According to the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC), this statistic accounts for 81 percent of the deaths in the age group from 15 to 24.
In recent years, there has been a growing initiative to reduce the amount of violence among youth. To do this, the CDC has sponsored programs involving the survey of violent offenders in hopes of determining what demographics of youth are most susceptible to violent trends.
Surveying youth has been challenging. Once surveyed, however, school districts have begun to implement ways to deal with youth violence at various grade levels. For example, in the Columbia County school system, all 6th graders are now required to complete a 25 lesson program in social skills and methods in which to diffuse conflict in a non-aggressive manner.
In this same school district, children in 6th, 7th and 8th grades are offered an opportunity to participate in peer mediation programs, with their teachers, involving opportunities to mediate conflicts among their peers in a structured setting.
The goal of these programs, as stated by the school districts who implement them, is to reduce the number of physical violence at school and to reduce the number of students who are expelled for violent behavior.
In addition to these school programs, the CDC has also provided a handbook for parents called, “Best Practices of Youth Violence Prevention: A Sourcebook for Community Action”. Within this guide, parents and community members are provided with suggestions in which to foster social development of children, even those who are not yet attending school.
Within the CDC handbook, suggestions for reducing the prevalence of youth violence are often met with some skepticism. However, when placed into action, many community leaders and families will agree, children are far better adapted when raised in these socially friendly environments. The handbook suggests activities including sports, walking in the part, working in a soup kitchen, volunteering in a local civic event, camping and hiking and even attending public speaking classes and cooking classes.
As with many issues facing our school systems, the issues of youth violence is a growing concern. With the collaboration of school districts, teachers, parents and even the CDC, it is the hope of the United States that we can resolve the number of violent crimes against and by our children.