Reasons for Teen Violence

Reasons for Teen Violence

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Why do teens resort to violence? It is a question that has been asked a lot recently with the increase of school shootings and the unbelievable scene in Littleton, Colorado. There is a very simple answer to that question though. Teens resort to violence because they want attention. There are several factors that wear them down to the point where they feel violence is okay but when it comes down to it those who turn to violent acts do so for the attention it will bring them.
Before I begin my argument though, I want to tell you how exactly I know what a teen mind goes through once its been pushed. My parents put me in first grade a year early because my birthday is in August. Therefore, growing up I was always the shortest and smallest because I was younger than everyone and my family is not a bunch of giants. Being small caused me to be picked on and being one of the smartest kids in the class didn’t help either. I took abuse about my size and height until I reached high school when everything leveled out and then I became the target of more abuse. I loved baseball and sometimes became a little too passionate about it. I’d lose my temper if I failed in hitting or whatever and some teammates smelled blood. Even though I would very rarely even become excited after my sophomore year they still tried to set me off at any chance they could. To not pound them into the ground took every bit of restraint I had. I had many thoughts of hurting them; forcing physical pain on them to make them understand what lengths they pushed me to. I also wanted everyone to know about. I wanted everyone to know how I had suffered and what pathetic human beings they were. That is how I know what the ultimate cause is for these crimes. The killers want attention to their problems.
     A good example of teens using violence for attention is the incident at Littleton. As I once read in Time magazine, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris had been picked on in school. Athletes called them “fags” and made fun of them. They were shunned by other students and regarded as weird. After being picked on enough they chose to bring their situation to the attention of the world by shooting and killing those that had abused them.

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The boys wanted everybody to feel sorry for them and angry with their tormentors; they wanted attention. I know this to be their motivation because I know what it feels like to be constantly harassed in high school and in school period. When you want revenge on a person you want everyone to know just how bad your tormentors are. Now you may argue that this happens to many people their age and they don’t resort to the extreme measures Klebold and Harris did. This is true but you have to look at the other factors behind it. As stated earlier, attention is the ultimate reason but there are factors that lead the teens to perform violent acts to get it. What happened with Harris and Klebold was likely that their parents never recognized their children’s problems and thus never helped them to move past them (as mine did in my case). Hiding their torment from their parents allowed them to turn to other sources such as media and the internet for ways to fight back. Having those examples for how to gain attention they saw violence as the way to be recognized the way they wanted.
     Many people blame video games or movies as the primary cause for kids to think that killing is acceptable. These are not completely invalid claims, but they are not the primary causes of these actions. Video games that allow the player to kill without prejudice do lessen the player’s sensitivity to the death of a person. Movies do the same thing. I know this because I can see it in my friends and feel it in myself. This does not mean that there is a killer building up inside of my friends and I it means that we can tell that we are losing our sensitivity to violence. It would take much more exposure and a different way of thinking to have us believe that we should become violent. When characters are constantly portrayed as so evil that only the prospect of death will get their attention then after enough exposure the viewers will eventually begin to think the same way about the less evil people in their own lives. However, both of these factors boil down to wanting attention. If there is no reason to do it even the most hardened of youths will not kill or wound others. They do it because they want everyone’s attention. Compare it to suicide victims. If they really want to kill themselves they’ll simply do it. If they want people to join in their suffering or give them attention then they’ll strap dynamite to their chest or threaten to jump off of a building or something else drastic to draw the public in. It’s the same thing with teen violence. If a teen really hates someone enough to kill and hate is their only motive then they will find them and kill them. However, as in most cases, when the teen feels that everyone needs to know how bad they feel a person or persons are then they will take action against them violently in public. Video games and movies wear down humanity, but that loss doesn’t result in violence without a motive, which is always attention.
     Another large argument as to the cause of teen violence is that the parents are neglectful or don’t limit their children’s exposure to bad things. Once again, this statement has merit, but it is not the factor behind it all. When parents don’t spend enough time with their children or don’t take enough interest in them the kids feel insufficient. Children desperately want their parents approval and when they don’t give it a hole begins to form inside of them. When the pain of that hole becomes too much to bear they start to feel bitter. As the bitterness builds up the child wants revenge against his or her parents for the pain they caused, but their parents don’t pay enough attention to them for a simple rebellion or cut off from them to work. So the kids see violence as a great way to gain the attention they want. By shooting kids at school who they don’t like they can say, “Hey mom and dad, this is what you made me!” Take note that it is attention they want though. Their revenge is to get attention by doing something awful. Teens performing violence does happen because of parental negligence but wanting attention is still a large factor in their acts.
     The typical teen murderer is a white male, from a middle class background. It has been suggested that the reason for this is their longing for the superiority their sex and race enjoyed over women and minorities in the past. This statement is unlike the others in that it carries little merit. In this day and age middle class white boys don’t know much of the difference between their dominance and their ancestor’s. The reason that most of the teen murders are done by members of this sex, race, and social class is that they want attention because they feel ordinary. They believe that they are exceptional and should be treated as such. There is nothing wrong with feeling exceptional and it is very common but when a person in that classification is picked on enough or ignored enough they become desperate to prove to the world how extraordinary they are. So they resort to violence and gain the attention of everyone just as they want. This is their way of proving to the world that they are special and not just a normal person. They are also getting even with those who abuse them, just as Harris and Klebold were. The typical teen killer being a white middle class male has nothing to do with wanting superiority, it has everything to do with wanting attention and the desire to break away from the majority of people that they are a part of.
     Violence is everywhere in modern society. Teens find it as an easy solution to their need for attention. Their pain causes that need and exists on different levels. I know what that pain feels like. Misery loves company and publicly hurting others shows that pain to everyone. I know I wanted everyone to see how abused I was and how evil the abusers were. In my case I had lots of love surrounding me and that allowed me to rise above my abuse. I would not have killed the people but I sure wanted to beat them up. My coach and family helped lift me above fighting and with the teen killers I don’t believe they have that love surrounding them to allow them to overcome that craving for attention and their own justice. Certain elements of society such as video games, movies, and television wear down the humanity of the teens and they find violence as an even easier way of gaining their attention. Many people guess at the causes of teen violence and while most of their guesses have merit they all seem to overlook the most obvious reason. Teenagers who feel neglected, oppressed, or mad at the world are all screaming for attention and they find violence as an effective means to get it.
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