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Young people and violence

There is a lot of discussion about young people and violence and whether things are
worse than they used to be. The following quotes are from an article which appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald 20/10/2010 and was reproduced in ‘YAPRAP’ newsletter June-July 2010. The article is by Don Weatherburn, Director, NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research who has been looking into this, and related issues, for some time.

‘Over the past five years, non-domestic assaults
by youths aged 10 to 17 rose about 4% each
year. But the number of young people committing
assaults with a weapon has not increased.
Research has shown the typical characteristics
of young people involved in assaults on school
grounds: they have low impulse control, live
with only one parent (or neither biological
parent), come from families that have frequent or
constant problems at home and are disciplined
at home in harsh, erratic or inconsistent ways.
Regardless of their background, students are less
likely to get involved in an assault if their school
has a clear anti-bullying policy consistently and
fairly enforced, if it deals swiftly with allegations
of racism and if the classroom experience for
students is stimulating rather than boring.’

The bureau in 2005, produced a report on ‘School violence and its antecedents: interviews with high school students’ which had this to say:

‘The findings contradict the popular assumption that the causes of school violence all lie within the school environment. According to the Bureau, personal and family factors play a key role in shaping the risk of violence on school grounds. Students are more likely to have attacked someone if:

They are male
They live with only one parent or not with their parents at all
Their mother is 35 or younger
Their parent(s) employ(s) punitive disciplinary practices
Their parent(s) poorly supervise them
They have problems with their family
They have problems reading and/or writing
They are impulsive
School factors, however, also play an important role. Students are more likely to have attacked someone if, in their opinion:

They spend a lot of time copying out work from textbooks
Their teachers spend more time keeping control of the class than teaching
The students at their school are racist
Kids who make racist remarks at the school don’t get into trouble with the teachers
Teachers do not intervene to stop bullying when they know about it
They were never formally told the school rules’

Distressing, interesting and worthwhile. And within these comments there seem some pretty clear indicators as to how we should be proceeding.

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