Getting Help for Teen Violence

Teen violence affects nearly all of the teens in the country. Even if a teen is not directly involved in the violence as a victim or as an instigator, most young people witness at least one incident of violence as a teenager. However, nearly one-third of sixth through tenth graders have direct experience with bullying, and one-third of high school students report being in a physical fight (1).

As a parent, there are some things that you can do to help your teenager get help for teen violence, whether your teen is the victim, or if your teen is the perpetrator.

Getting help for teen violence if your teenager is the victim

If your child is the victim of teen violence or bullying, it is important that you show your teen that he or she is loved. Fostering resilience can help your child through the period of teen violence with minimal psychological impact, and it can prevent your teen from turning to teen violence out of revenge or frustration. Here are ways you can foster resilience (2):

  • Listen to your teen and talk to him or her regularly
  • Know where your teen goes, and who they go with
  • Praise your teenager for jobs well done
  • Set consistent rules and limits
  • Model appropriate behavior for your teen
  • Be involved with your teen’s school.
  • Make sure you show love and attention each day
  • Practice anger management in the home, avoiding physical conflict and resolving differences through calm mediation
  • Provide experience that allow your teen to contribute to the family

You should also share with your teen some tips to ward off bullies and avoid teen violence. Here are some things that you can tell your teen (3):

  • Tell an adult about the bullying. Your teen should feel comfortable coming to you with problems, and he or she should go to a trusted teacher or principal with the problem.
  • Stay with friends. The buddy system can help protect your teen from violence. Encourage your teen to find true friends and try to avoid situations in which the bully can get him or her alone.
  • Avoid showing anger. The bully should know that he or she is not in control of your teen’s emotions.
  • Encourage your teen to avoid bullying back. If possible, avoid the situation, or find a safe place.
  • Use confident body language. Counsel your teen to walk tall, and avoid looking vulnerable. If the violence is of an emotional nature, ignoring it and maintaining dignity can lead to the bully losing interest.

Helping your teen if he or she is the source of violence

It can be shocking and disappointing to learn that your teenager instigates teen violence. However, there are steps you can take to discourage the behavior. Here are some ways you can emphasize that bullying should stop (3):

  • Model tolerance in your home, teaching your teen to respect those with differences. Teach compassion for those with disabilities (both physical and mental) and compassion for those who are in less fortunate circumstances.
  • Who are your teen’s friends? Do they instigate teen violence? If so, approach the school principal to help crack down on bullying at the school. Make your home a place for teens to congregate, rather than allowing them to roam around town terrorizing others.
  • Help and encourage your teen to find other ways to react to pressures and frustrations. Teach appropriate ways to channel negative emotions.
  • Make sure that your teen understands the seriousness of violent behavior. You can help your teen with his or her violence problem by restricting privileges and helping him or her earn them back through appropriate behavior.
  • Ask for help. Attend counseling sessions with your teen to get help for teen violence.
  • Examine your home environment. Is your home a place of conflict? Does a parent or sibling tease or torment your teen? If so, your teenager mod behaviors in the home. Finding ways to change the way things run at home can be a way to get help for teen violence.

Getting Help for Teen Violence Sources:

  1. “Youth Violence: Fact Sheet,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control [online].
  2. “What You Need to Know About Youth Violence Prevention,” Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, National Mental Health Information Center [online].
  3. “Bullying and Your Child,” Kids Health [online].