Did you know that in this Australia, males aged 15-24 are at the highest risk of victimization of assault? 51% of males are assaulted by a stranger, 23% of assaults are occurring in public places such as streets and footpaths and around 30% of assaults have no apparent motive. These youth violence statistics are hard to comprehend.
What’s the cause of this violence that is affecting our youth? Research has shown that there are eight main causes of this type of violence:
- Alcohol and drugs
- Low self-esteem
- Social and peer pressure
- Poor communication skills
- Over-developed sense of ownership and control
- Under-developed ability to communicate
- Damage to ego and pride
In April this year Wally James Hung, aged just 23, was sentenced to seven years in jail for the manslaughter of 22 year old Todd Parnell. One life lost, one life changed forever, two families, numerous friends and a community left to pick up the pieces. From the court transcripts it appears many of the causes of youth violence were present the night Todd Parnell received that fatal blow – alcohol, poor communication, social and peer pressure and possibly even retaliation, although Hung later claimed it was an act of self-defence.
Unfortunately the stories are becoming are all too similar and becoming all too frequent. A night out, a few too many, a look, a comment, a nudge, communication breaks down, someone is offended and the punches start to fly. What young people have to understand is that just one punch can and does kill. That one punch thrown in anger and usually in misunderstanding affects so many lives. Not just the person physically assaulted but their entire family. Not just the person who threw the punch, now possibly facing assault, manslaughter or even murder charges, but their entire family.
Youth violence affects everyone, in every community, and so it is as a community that we need to work together to eliminate this rising problem. We need to engage youth in programs that are researched and designed specifically to target the causes of youth violence in our country.
It is great to see initiatives like the ‘Changing Attitudes to alcohol through sport’, announced on April 28th 2012. This program is the work of the WA Sports Federation, in partnership with The Luke Adams Foundation, and aims to change attitudes where a real difference can be made – at the grass roots level of sport.
Next time we’d like to talk to you about how youth can recognise a potentially violent situation and avoid it.
Till then – play safe and look out for your friends!