This Article seeks to guide on:
- What violent behavior is
- What causes teen violence
- How to prevent teen violence
- Possible treatment options
Is your teen exhibiting violent tendencies such as getting into fights at school, shouting at, or shoving their siblings? This may be a sign that your teen is going through something which may manifest in aggression. You may have tried different strategies to correct this behavior with no luck. It is every parent’s wish to help their teens cope with anything that may be troubling them. This article will explore aggressive adolescent behaviors, their causes, and possible ways to prevent and treat such behaviors in your teens. The article will offer a better understanding of your teen to help them overcome their aggression and cope with the underlying causes.
What is Violent Behavior in Teens?
Violent behavior or adolescent aggression is an issue that usually manifests in kids and teens. It can include a wide range of behaviors such as physical aggression, explosive tempers, shouting, shoving, animal cruelty, pyromaniac tendencies (setting things on fire), vandalism, and attempts to hurt or cause harm to others or themselves. These characteristics are often dismissed as “a phase” or “hormones” by some parents. It would be best if you did not dismiss such behaviors since they may indicate some underlying problems your teen might be facing at school or in their friend groups.
Aggression in adolescents can impact the lives of teens, their peers, and their family members. It affects their relationships with friends as some friends may begin to distance themselves from the teen due to the violent behavior.
Causes of Violent or Aggressive Behavior in Teens
You might be wondering why your teenager is suddenly acting violently. There are a number of causes of teen violence ranging from environmental to biological factors. It is important to understand what might be causing the violent outbursts so that you can help your teenager cope or deal with the causes.
Environmental factors cause the majority of violent behavior. This is because violence is a learned behavior. Several environmental factors may influence teens into violent behavior, such as peer pressure, stress, and community factors.
During puberty, teens often want to seem cool to be accepted by their peers. What their peers see as cool may involve violence, vandalism, cussing, and animal cruelty. Since your teen may want to fit in, they may start engaging in such aggressive behavior. Delinquent peer groups can harm your teenager’s quality of life since peers influence other behavior like drug and teen substance abuse.
Another key environmental factor is community violence. Research has shown that children exposed to violence have an increased risk of engaging in teen violence when they are older. Exposure to community violence increases the risk of violence by up to 40%.
Even when the violence does not occur at home, some communities allow teens to engage in violence through gangs and other illegal activities. Communities that provide opportunities for violence for teens often do not have effective social bonds and controls that foster a sense of responsibility for each other. Without positive social norms and behavior, teens are highly susceptible to engaging in violence and aggressive behavior.
Teens dealing with environmental stress, such as bullying and assault, may also exhibit violent behavior. Teens feel vulnerable when they go through such traumatic events and lash out to feel safe and protected. This may manifest in increased fighting in school or cruelty to their siblings and other family members. As a parent, it is important to ensure your teens feel safe and protected by addressing issues such as bullying and assault.
Research has shown that some forms of aggression, irritable/impulsive aggression, may be hereditary. The research suggests that teens may be susceptible to aggression through some hereditary genes. If a teenager inherits genes associated with aggression, such as serotonin-related genes, neuromodulator-related genes, and 5-HT2A TYR 452 allele, they may be at risk of developing childhood and teen aggression.
Warning Signs of Violent or Aggressive Behavior in Teens
Knowing which behavioral changes may lead to violence in your teenager is difficult. Teens who act violently usually have trouble controlling and expressing their feelings. Violence is often associated with coping with stress, such as bullying because teens feel unsafe and need to protect themselves from others. Warning signs can be categorized into two broad categories: physical and behavioral signs. You can look out for some warning signs to ensure that you take aggressive behavior interventions and help your teenager. Behavioral warning signs that you need to look out for include:
- Extreme impulsiveness
- Intense anger
- Lack of empathy
- Withdrawal from friends and peers and antisocial behavior in teens
- Declining performance in school
Some physical warning signs include:
- Bruises from fights
- Scars from fights or property destruction
- Cuts that may be from self-harm
- Drug and teen alcohol abuse
It is important to monitor changes in behavior in your teen since it can indicate the start of aggressive behavior.
How to Prevent Violent or Aggressive Behavior in Teens
It can be challenging to deal with aggressive behavior from your teen. Most parents usually shy away from dealing with aggressive behavior since they dismiss it as a phase or hormones in a growing mind. This can be dangerous since it does not help your teen foster positive behavior and manage their emotions. When your teen expresses violent and aggressive behavior, it is important to prioritize safety. You can prevent aggressive behavior in teens by using some tried and tested methods. These methods include:
- Avoid using violence – If your teenager acts aggressively toward you or others, avoid using violence against them. This enforces the idea that violence is unacceptable, fostering positive examples of how to deal with stress.
- Set boundaries and be clear – Teenagers need to have a clear understanding of the boundaries they have set. Be clear about what is acceptable to you and what is not. Violence, for instance, is unacceptable behavior that should not be tolerated.
- Promote healthy communication – Aggressive behavior stems from difficulties in expressing one’s feelings. By fostering healthy honest communication with your teens, they can learn how to express their feelings without resorting to aggressive and violent behavior. Healthy communication can also help resolve the root cause of aggressiveness, such as bullying. Your teens trust you and feel safe enough to talk about their feelings when you foster healthy communication with them,
- Encourage positive behavior – Encouraging positive behavior can be effective in aggressive behavior modification. Since violence is mostly a learned behavior, it is important to encourage and foster positive behavior. You can foster positive behavior by encouraging positive actions like gratitude and removing the stresses that may cause aggression in teens. Being an example of positive behavior can be an effective tool in preventing aggression in teens.
How to Help a Teen Who Exhibits Violent or Aggressive Behavior
You may be wondering how to effectively assist your teen in exhibiting aggressive and violent behavior. Aggression and mental health among teens are linked, and signs should not be ignored or dismissed.
At Key Healthcare, we offer a number of teen treatment programs to help teens manage their anger. Our programs are designed to get teens back on track and enable them to build healthy relationships with their community. The following programs offered at Key Healthcare can be beneficial in adolescent aggression treatment.
Teen Intensive Outpatient (TIO)
Teen Intensive Outpatient program is specifically designed for teens aged 13-19. It is an intensive program that takes 3 hours a day, 3 times a week. The program involves various treatment methods, including, teen group therapy, teen individual therapy, and teen family therapy.
During these sessions, the teen struggling with aggression interacts with a registered mental health professional to unpack the cause of the aggressive behavior and talk about their feelings. Teen Individual therapy sessions can be great for expressing their feelings and creating trust between the teen and the therapist. This can allow the teen to open up about why they are aggressive.
Group and family therapy sessions build bonds between the participants, making them feel understood and validated in their feelings. This also encourages teens to understand how aggressive behavior affects those around them.
Enrolling your at-risk teen in this program can be an effective tool for treating and preventing violent behavior in teens.
Residential Treatment Center (RTC) for Teens
Key Healthcare’s teen residential treatment program is an intensive 45-60 day treatment plan for extremely aggressive teens. This treatment plan is both supportive and creates a safe environment for extremely violent and aggressive teens.
It is designed by combining two treatment modes: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Teens and Comprehensive Dialectical Behavior Therapy for teens. These treatment modes help teens overcome and cope with the underlying causes of their violence and aggression.
RTC involves much more care and activities, including individual therapy, teenage group therapy, nutrition and exercise, academic support, family-centered treatment, and holistic recreational therapy. Teens enrolled in this treatment plan can express themselves during group and individual therapy sessions while also receiving academic support to avoid falling behind on schoolwork. They also engage in activities such as teen yoga therapy, art therapy, hiking, and other recreational activities, which help them manage their aggressiveness and anger.
RTC involves 24/7 care and support for teens. RTC is highly specialized, and treatment takes place in the Teen Residential Treatment Center near Malibu in Los Angeles, California.
At Key Healthcare, up to 100% of costs may be covered by your insurance, depending on your plan. Key Healthcare works with most health insurance providers, so you do not have to worry about the costs. Verify insurance from here.
Read this ultimate guide to learn more about Residential treatment for teens.
Legal Consequences of Violent or Aggressive Behavior in Teens
Teen violence can have both social and legal consequences. Depending on how your teen expresses their aggression, consequences can vary from just social to purely legal. Violent teens can engage in assault, gang violence, vandalism, arson, and destruction of property, which have legal consequences depending on the State and severity of the crime.
Engaging in aggressive behavior interventions is important to ensure your teen does not find themselves in the juvenile justice system.
Resources for Parents and Caregivers
Various resources and blogs are available for parents and caregivers to help teens with aggressive or violent behavior. These include the national parent helpline at 1-855-427-2736 or Key Healthcare at (800) 421-4364. Contact these numbers to get the help that you need.
In conclusion, to better help your teen with their aggressiveness, you need to look out for warning signs such as increased irritability, explosive behavior, impulsiveness, cuts, and bruises which may be warning signs that your teenager might be exhibiting teen aggression. Teen aggression is often linked with mental health and should be taken seriously.
To help your teenager manage their anger, it is important not to fight fire with fire. Give your teenager some space to cool off and reinforce positive behavior by leading by example.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What factors contribute to violent or aggressive behavior in teens?
Several factors contribute to teen aggression and violence. The key factors are environmental and biological. Most violence is learned and stems from exposure to violence in the community or at home. Teen violence can also signify physical, emotional, or sexual abuse.
What are some effective strategies for de-escalating conflicts or defusing potentially violent situations involving teens?
To effectively de-escalate a potentially violent conflict, you need first to avoid using violence against them. The effects of yelling at a teenager are not always positive; it can escalate the situation. It is important to keep your tone neutral and be empathetic toward them. Set clear boundaries, respect their personal space, and focus on the thoughts behind their feelings.
How can parents or caregivers help a teen who has experienced trauma or abuse that may be contributing to their violent or aggressive behavior?
Parents and caregivers can help teens who have experienced trauma and abuse by letting them know their feelings are validated after experiencing trauma. It is also important to let them know the traumatic event was not their fault. Creating an environment free of triggers may also help teenagers cope with their trauma. It is also important to seek professional help through individual, group, or family therapy.
What role do peers and social dynamics play in developing violent or aggressive teen behavior?
Peers may have positive and negative impacts on developing aggressive behavior. Peers may encourage violence to seem cool. Teens will often engage in such activities to feel socially accepted.
What are the potential long-term consequences of engaging in violent or aggressive behavior as a teen?
Long-term aggression may cause strained or ruined interpersonal relationships, academic failure due to poor performance at school, teenage isolation, antisocial behavior, worsening mental health, and legal consequences such as juvenile detention and probation.
Can therapy help reduce violent behavior in teens?
Yes, therapy is the primary care intervention for aggressive or violent teens. It is very effective in treating both aggressive behavior and its underlying causes.
What is the role of mental illness in violent behavior in teens?
Mental illness and aggressive behavior may be interlinked. Violent behavior is often an outward expression of an underlying mental condition such as teen depression, anxiety, and mental disorders such as bipolar disorder.