A Public Health Problem: Youth Violence
Very few people have not heard about the Columbine High School shootings.
Twelve students and one teacher were killed at this Colorado school in 1999. An even
more recent event, the Virginia Tech shooting, happened in April 2007. The shooter killed
thirty-three people, including himself, and injured twenty-nine others. These shootings
spurred people to contemplate why teen-agers and young adults resort to this cruelty, and
many of these people took sides on this issue. Violence among adolescents still exists in
every school like Virginia Tech, and researchers are trying to find the source of it.
Violence can be sexual, it can be emotional, but overall, youth violence is physical. It
includes, but is not limited to, homicides like school shootings, physical fights, bullying,
and carrying weapons with the intent to harm. The Bureau of Justice Statistics shows that
over ten percent of all homicides between 1976 and 2004 were committed by people
under the age of eighteen. There have been major instances in various states that have
caused Americans to become worried about this aggression among adolescents. Some
blame the media, some say it is not the media at all, and others, like myself, blame
violence on the undeveloped portions of a teen-age brain. Americans are trying to figure
out what exactly is the cause of this disturbing problem. Why are teen-agers so irrational,
and why do they resort to violence?
I saw firsthand what many people determine as teen-age violence. Almost every
day at the high school I attended from 2005 to 2006 there was a fight or gossip about a
fight that might take place. Before lunch, I would see a crowd of people rush in a circle
around two students that were in a fist fight. The people in the crowd seemed to enjoy
this fight, as if it were some kind of performance or show. They would yell, chant, and
even try to get the students more angry and aggressive. One student at my school was