Tackling adolescent aggression

Love and family can help quell teen violence
              Teenage violence is often front page news and it is a growing concern. Young girls are sexually abused on a daily basis. Rival vocational schools clash in gang-style rumbles resulting in serious injuries or even death. Students take their own lives. Loss and sorrow are the result.

What are the causes of violence in teenagers?

          Modern society should start taking a serious look at the roots of this problem and join hands in an effort to eradicate violence before our children fall deeper into this dark abyss.

          There are many factors, some biological and others caused by the environment.

          A hormonal imbalance in the brain cells, a natural part of growing up, can impair a teen's ability to control his emotions and make sound decisions.

          Some teens also come from bad families or families in financial trouble, which can increase the risk of their resorting to violent or anti-social behaviour.

If Mum and Dad are busy with work, their children can feel neglected.

Without the warmth and comfort of a supportive family, a child can grow up lacking the skills and confidence he needs to make sound decisions, solve problems and manage his emotions at this critical turning point in his life.

          A child wants to find his own identity, while meeting his parents' expectations.

          He wants to act responsibly while still being accepted among his peers.

          Growing up is hard, and the solution starts at home.

          Parents must find time for their children to talk. Their own behaviour must also reflect what they
          expect in their children.

          If parents cannot help their children deal with the complex problems involved in growing up, the
          child may look for "help" elsewhere.

          The child will copy his friends, or perhaps look for role models in the media.

          The media can convey the wrong message to teenagers. Some TV soaps are violent and portray
           relationships in an unfavourable way which might influence teens to mimic such behaviour.

          TV soaps contain scenes of women slapping each other and hurling insults. The hero might also
          sexually abuse the heroine.

          In feature films, violence is often taken to more harrowing extremes.

          If young people see violence enacted on TV often enough, they may come to think it is normal -
          especially if their parents are not around to point out the truth, that resorting to violence is not an
          acceptable way of solving problems.

          The internet is another source of potentially objectionable content. Here, we find videoclips of teen
          gangs fighting on the streets, and schoolgirls engaged in brawls.

          Teens can also get addicted to computer games, many of which centre around violent themes.

          For parents, the best solution is to stay ahead of the media, by understanding how it works and
          explaining these things to their children.

          Parents should make time for their children so they can talk, analyse and explain information.

          Young children need to be nurtured and equipped with the ability to analyse whatever information
          is being fed to them.

          Solving problems of violence in teenagers must start with the family.

          The atmosphere at home should be happy, loving and caring.

          Parents should form strong bonds with their children, accept their children's viewpoints, and serve
          as good role models.

          Only then will their children be able to grow up into responsible adults with the ability to distinguish
          between what's right and wrong.


BangkokPost, myfamily March 11-17, 2010   
By Dr Angkana Unyamanee  is a psychiatrist at Manarom Hospital