The violent child and adolescent: Risk factors

This is an outline rather than an in-depth analysis of the risk factors for violent behaviour among children and adolescents. Examining risk factors associated with aggressive behaviour among youth is timely since there is evidence that acts of severe aggression are reported to be on the increase among children and adolescents in large Greek cities and in some provinces. A single risk factor may be insufficient to trigger off violent behaviour. It is probably the combination of risk factors that may be related to violence. The proposed scheme of risk factors may be insufficient to explain violence and possibly another one may have better explanatory power.

The proposed risk factors which in combination may increase the chances for violence include:

a) Constitutional aggressive disposition which often is variation of the normal disposition for the child's aggressiveness. b) Absent or inadequate rearing practices by the parents during infancy which may leave the child without internal controls. c) Adverse early life experiences within the family which may have had lasting effect on the personality of the child such as lack of empathy for the suffering of another person, disposition to experience intense hate and envy. d) Negative, mostly aggressive behaviour examples shown by the parents. e) Antisocial aggressive life examples shown as a matter of rule by TV. f) Social anomy that is disregard for law and regulations for every day public life. g) Belonging to a youth delinquent gang which provides support attenuating personal responsibility. h) There are also risk factors that apply to possible victims such as devalued and defenseless immigrant and /or invalid children and adolescents.

Severe antisocial behaviour, such as aggressive acts by youths is easier to prevent than to treat. Most of the prevention responsibility rests upon social agencies, including government services, to develop and implement programs aiming to the child in the family. Intervention in the family is a complex task requiring the cooperation of social and mental health services. In this regard the advice may be sought from government agencies of countries with successful intervention programs in the family on behalf of the child such as Canada and other.

Some other risk factors may be addressed within the school environment. Primary responsibility of the school is the prevention of academic failure and social marginalization of children and adolescents presenting with are learning disabilities. Those failing in school become vulnerable to join the underprivileged and embittered gangs of the streets. It is also the responsibility of the school to educate and integrate into its fabric children of immigrant families and prepare them for as successful social integration.