Teenage Violence Prevention

Teenage violence prevention includes home, school, and community. Learn what factors are common amongst violent teenagers and a list of things parents can do to help prevent youth violence and help their teen avoid involvement in adolescent violence.

Because of the increase in teen violence in recent decades, many people are concerned about finding ways to reduce or prevent teenage violence. In many cases teen involvement in violence can be prevented, but the best way to do so many vary with the individual. Positive family connections, a commitment to school, and self-discipline are among the top factors that seem to be effective in teen violence prevention for the perpetrator and/or the victim.

There are many factors that influence whether or not young people will be involved in teen violence. Incidents of teenage violence can be reduced by teaching teens good coping skills for their problems. Traits that can help young people cope with problems in non-violent ways include:

  • Good physical and mental health
  • Trusting relationships with positive peers and family members
  • The ability to learn and understand
  • Self-discipline - the ability to delay gratification
  • Creativity
  • Sense of humor
  • The opportunity to contribute to the world around them
  • A sense that one’s life has value

Things parents can do to help children and teens avoid being involved in teenage violence include:

  • Talk to your teens and listen to what they have to say; reassure them that they can talk to you about anything. Try to talk for at least 15 minutes per day, without any other interruptions such as television. Don’t criticize them, and avoid shouting.
  • Show your children positive attention every day; praise good behavior and tell teens you love them.
  • Set an example of non-violent behavior, and tell your teen that violence is not the best solution to a problem and that there are other ways to cope, such as with compromises, humor, or ignoring or avoiding people who are bothering them. These coping startegies can go a long way in teenage violence prevention.
  • Help children and teens learn ways to cope with anger, such as by thinking about things that make them feel peaceful or ways to solve the problem without being violent.
  • Encourage children to avoid being a victim by staying away from situations that are risky or that they feel uncomfortable about, or by saying no and getting away from bad situations.
  • Take the time for fun family activities, which don’t need to cost anything as long as the family is together. Make these times special. Try to have at least one meal each day together as a family.
  • Set clear and consistent rules, with appropriate, non-violent consequences for breaking rules that are consistently enforced. Consider creating a behavior contract with your teen that clearly states what you both expect their behavior to be and what the consequences of breaking the contract are.
  • Know where your children are, what they are doing, and whom they are doing it with. Meet all of your children’s friends.
  • Be involved in your children’s school and emphasize the importance of education. Set an example by reading, and check your teen’s homework without doing the work for them.
  • Help your teen find ways to contribute around the home, at school, at your place of worship, or in the community. This can include doing chores or volunteer work.
  • Do not allow children access to drugs, alcohol, or guns, and explain to them why they should avoid using these.
  • Monitor what your children’s media, including television, movies, music, video games, and internet. Consider allowing computer and televisions only in public parts of the house, not in children’s rooms. If you see something in the media you disapprove of, calmly explain to your child why it is wrong. For instance, the violence they see on TV is fake and real violence is not funny or good because is causes suffering, is against the law, etc. Some believe violent media and teen violence have a strong correlation.
  • Encourage your children to understand their culture and its positive values.
  • Don’t leave teens unsupervised after school; this is the most dangerous time for most teens. If you cannot be home with your teen after school, arrange for them to join an after school program or activity.
  • Seek help for your child, your self, or your family if you need it. Most communities have free or low cost counseling available for families. Teach your teen that it is good to seek help if they need it.

Many factors may help to prevent teenage violence. Traditional values that focus on social norms and a commitment to education are two factors that have been shown to reduce the impact of risk factors for teenage violence in at-risk youth. Teenage violence prevention programs for schools and communities usually focus on reducing risky behaviors in teens by increasing individual’s skills, educating parents, improving young people’s peer interactions, and improving school environments. These things can all help to reduce violence among teens.


United States Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, National Mental Health Information Center, “What you Need to Know About Youth Violence Prevention,” 2002 [available online].

United States Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, National Mental Health Information Center, “Parents: Be Role Models for Your Children” [available online].

Related Article: Teen Violence Treatment >>