Comprehensive Steps Urged To Stem Youth Violence

You can obtain a complimentary copy of the report from the American Psychological Association at 750 First Street, N.E., Washington, D.C. 20002-4242. Simply call (202) 336-6055.

According to the American Psychological Association, although violence is becoming more prevalent among American youths, it is a behavior that can be "unlearned" through the implementation of more comprehensive violence-prevention programs by schools, government agencies, and other community institutions. The United States currently has the highest occurrence of interpersonal violence among all industrialized nations, with a significant increase in violence among young people over the past decade or so. These findings were published in a recent report by the A.P.A. Commission on Violence and Youth.

The report, titled "Violence and Youth: Psychology’s Response," provides an overview of a two-year study conducted by the commission. The complete report is set to be published in 1994. Ronald G. Slaby, a senior scientist and lecturer at Harvard University and a member of the commission, highlighted the alarming rate of violence-related deaths in the United States during a press conference. He compared the situation to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and expressed concern that if current trends continue, a similar wall of names could be filled every two and one-third years. Slaby emphasized that the country is facing an internal war that claims the lives of over 25,000 Americans annually, including many children and young individuals.

Despite these grim statistics, the commissioners convey a message of hope in their report. They emphasize that youth violence is not random, uncontrollable, or inevitable. According to them, every institution that interacts with children, such as families, schools, mass media, communities, and religious organizations, has the power to positively contribute to their sense of safety and promote non-violent alternatives.

The commission’s report includes 39 recommendations. One of the key suggestions is for schools to implement coordinated, systematic, developmentally-appropriate, and culturally-sensitive violence prevention programs from early childhood through adolescence. The commission also urges Congress, state, and local governments to allocate more funding for after-school programs and recreational activities in schools with high percentages of at-risk children, as unsupervised time outside of school is correlated with involvement in gangs and delinquency. Additionally, the report calls for violence-reduction strategies to be integrated into education schools and provided to teachers, administrators, school staff members, and health professionals working with children. It also advocates for the Federal Communications Commission to restrict the broadcasting of highly violent programs on television between 6 A.M. and 10 P.M.

To acquire a copy of the report, contact the American Psychological Association at 750 First Street, N.E., Washington, D.C. 20002-4242 or call (202) 336-6055.


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