So many people are talking about youth violence: community groups, police, politicians, the media… and while it’s a start, there needs to be more of it, and the talking needs to begin at home.
Data suggests that effective communication within families is one of the keys to preventing youth violence. Parents need to be aware of this and talk to their children, particularly their teens, about the destructiveness of violence: teaching them the difference between right and wrong and the consequences of youth violence, and exploring with them the alternatives.
Not sure where to start? Use current events as a starting point to creating a dialogue about the topic. Discussing a recent event in which youth violence occurred can lead to an open discussion on the consequences that came about and how the situation could have been handled differently and without violence. This approach will ensure that a dialogue takes place without it feeling like a lecture or criticism.
Most violence comes from a place of frustration, anger and misunderstanding. Open communication is crucial in helping teens to understand and cope with these feelings– they need to know that their parent(s) will listen and guide them without judgement or recrimination. We must remember that as tough and independent as teens appear they still need guidance, boundaries and support from their parents and that’s where communication and just talking can begin.
It’s inevitable that as children grow up into teenagers, they will pull back from their parents as their peer group becomes more important but, as a parent, you need to continue to talk with them and know what’s going on.
Ending youth violence doesn’t start on the streets. It starts by talking to our kids, at home. Take a few minutes today and just talk… It can make a world of difference.