Research Papers in the fields of psychology and sociology attempt to uncover the roots of youth violence by examining variables thought to be risk factors for violent behavior, and by studying violent behavior in the context of the individual and the social environment that produces it. Past research papers may not have focused extensively on risk factors within the school, and that may provide an area for further study.
However, a good research paper will note that risk factors for violent behaviors stem from a number of sources, including the following:
- Personality, physical, and mental health traits
- Biophysiological factors such as brain or neurological injuries, hormonal imbalances
- Genetic factors from family
- Peer, school, community and neighborhood influences.
Research papers from these and other fields has produced evidence of correlations between aggressive violent behaviors and child neglect and abuse, and has established that protective factors include a functioning family, community stability, a lack of poverty, good physical and mental health, positive peer relationships, and healthy child-rearing practices, among others.
Effective youth violence programs must support "resiliency factors" that help to build coping skills and resilience in young people. These resiliency factors are essential to addressing not only those youth who find themselves victims of youth violence but also those youth who perpetrate such violence. These factors include but are not confined to possessing a locus of control, where the young person is given control of his or her future through the development of goals and the identification of both their successes and their failures.
On a much broader level are youth violence prevention programs that are designed to create "non-violent cultures" in the nation's school's. According to the research, effective violence prevention programs in schools manifest many of the characteristics of programs targeted at youth at the individual level such as being proactive, focusing on communities and developing relationships between youth and authority figures. Among the strategies that are employed in school-wide youth violence prevention programs are:
- Developing student respect for student differences
- Offering strong staff support
- Developing student social skills
- Using praise and approval
- Managing classrooms through various behavioral techniques
The research demonstrates however that, strategies like these are only effective in so far as students, parents, staff and school administrators are committed to making the school-wide youth violence prevention program work.
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