Facts About Teen Violence | At The Crossroads
By Craig Rogers
The first step in addressing the problem of teens exposure to violence is commitment to a vision for the future—a vision that includes clear goals and a path for achieving them.
At The Crossroads presents this information to parents of troubled teens. At The Crossroads is an independent living program for young adults. We recommend At The Crossroads for troubled young men and women (ages 18-25) who need extra help and training to live successfully live on their own. Please call 866-439-0354 for more information.
Critical to that process is a willingness to consider doing things differently. For policymakers, this means increasing resources for prevention programs and other services at the front end of the system. For justice system professionals, it means being sensitive to the serious impact of violence and victimization on children.
For service providers, it means recognizing and building on the strengths of battered women and helping them develop safety strategies for themselves and their children, consistently viewing children within the context of family, and developing comprehensive services that work together. Finally, there must be a commitment from professionals to keep children and their voices at the
core of the work that is done on their behalf.
There are many reasons why successfully responding to the issue of children’s exposure to violence has been so difficult and why a clearer understanding of the issue and some basic operating principles around which to organize the work are so critical. Among these reasons are the following:
It is a complicated issue. Children’s exposure to violence—how and why it happens, what its consequences are, and what to do about it—is a complicated, multifaceted issue, made even more complex by the steady stream of new data and information. This complexity makes it difficult to agree upon joint strategies.
It is a problem people try to avoid. Denial, discomfort, refusal to identify perpetrators, and “burnout” contribute to the Nation’s reluctance to do something about the large numbers of children harmed by violence.
It is an issue that divides professionals. Too often, professionals working with children exposed to violence work in isolation from each other or, worse, at cross-purposes.
Knowing the Facts
Effective strategies for addressing children’s exposure to violence must be based on a thorough understanding of the facts surrounding the problem. For example:
Millions of children are exposed to violence each year. National estimates based on a 1995 survey indicate that of the Nation’s 22.3 million children between the ages of 12 and 17, approximately 1.8 million have been victims of a serious sexual assault, 3.9 million have been victims of a serious physical assault, and almost 9 million have witnessed serious violence. Every day in 1997, six young people (under the age of 18) were murdered; 56 percent of the victims were killed with a firearm.
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP)