Teen Violence Risk Factors

teen bullying

Teen violence can erupt anywhere and at any time. Additionally, there are usually several complex causes of teenage violence. And because the causes are so varied, it can be difficult to determine what could trigger teen violence. However, there are risk factors that your teen may be violent. Different factors in different setting can lead to a higher probability of violence in teens.

At-risk groups for teen violence

Some groups are more likely than others to engage in youth violence. If you teenager is part of one of these groups, he or she is at a higher risk for committing acts of violence against others, or being a victim of teenage violence (1):

  • For African American youth, homicide is the leading cause of death.
  • Hispanics experience homicide as the second leading cause of death among youth.
  • The male rate for youth homicides in 2003 was 86 percent, as opposed to 14 percent for females.
  • Male teens are more likely to be in a physical fight than female teenagers: 41 percent for males and 25 percent for females.

Additionally, female teens are more likely, at 12 percent, to be forced into having sexual intercourse, a form of sexual or date violence, than their male counterparts (at six percent) (2).

Individual risk factors for teen violence

Risk factors that your teen may be violent can be experienced on an individual basis. Here are the individual risk factors for teen violence (2):

  • Antisocial behaviors, attitudes and beliefs
  • Use of drugs, tobacco or alcohol
  • Aggressive behavior in early development
  • Attention deficits, hyperactivity or learning disorders
  • Behavior control problems
  • Social problems

Family factors for teen violence

Some risk factors that your teen may be violent include those that are the result of the home and family environment. Here are the teen violence risk factors associated with the family and home situation (2):

  • Inconsistent discipline at home
  • Lax disciplinary practices
  • Harsh disciplinary practices
  • Parents with low education levels
  • Conflict and violence in the home
  • Low incidence of family involvement with a teen
  • Poor teen supervision
  • Low emotional attachment to guardians and family members

Risk factors for teen violence at school

The school environment can also contribute to an increased risk of violent behavior in your teen. Here are some of the school risk factors that your teen may be violent (1):

  • Gang involvement
  • Delinquent friends
  • Lack of commitment to school
  • Poor performance academically
  • Rejection by those at school
  • Victim of teasing and bullying

Risk factors for teen violence from the community

Not only are there individual, family and school risk factors that your teen may be violent, but the community also offers risk factors. Here are some of the possible risk factors for teen violence that may exist in a community (1):

  • Concentrations of poor residents
  • Family disruption and transience
  • Few economic opportunities
  • Lack of participation in community life
  • Neighborhoods that show social disorganization

Teen Violence Risk Factors Sources:

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control [online].
  2. Family First Aid [online].