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Violence in Children and Adolescents


The Manual's Editorial Staff

Last full review/revision Oct 2020| Content last modified Oct 2020
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Children and adolescents (teenagers) sometimes are violent. Most of these children don’t continue their violent behavior or commit violent crimes as adults. However, children who become violent before middle school may be more likely to commit crimes later in life.

Bullying is a particular form of violence in which one child is mean to or hurts another child who's smaller or less powerful.

Children who are members of a gang are more likely to do violent things, including using guns. Some gangs make people do something violent before they can join.

What makes children more likely to be violent?

Children are more likely to be violent if:

  • They’re hit or beaten by caregivers, even as "discipline"

  • Their caregivers abuse alcohol or drugs

  • They join a gang

  • Their family is poor

  • They have access to guns

Playing violent video games or watching violence on TV or in the movies doesn’t cause violent behavior. But it may make violence seem normal.

How can I prevent my child from becoming violent?

You can help prevent violence in your child by:

  • Not hitting them or punishing them with violence, or letting anyone else do so

  • Keeping weapons away from your child

  • Limiting violent TV, movies, and video games

  • Asking your child about any bullying

  • Teaching older children and teens to avoid violence and how to react to situations where violence is likely, such as those who have a weapon or who are using drugs and alcohol

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