One of the areas that has the highest influence in a child’s development is their home life, and the way their family raises them. Parents are a child’s primary role model, and the first to teach their children how to navigate skills such as social, emotional, cognitive and behavioral tendencies. These are referred to as developmental competencies. The community, such as schools, has a heavy impact on the development of a child as well. Along with families, these places help to instill physical and psychological safety, supportive relationships, social norms, support for efficacy, the chance to build on their skills, and the ability to integrate into a world outside of their home. The harsh reality of this situation is that childhood is fleeting and incredibly impactful.
Children or adolescents who are less likely to successfully transition into adulthood are known as at-risk youth. There are a variety of factors that contribute to a child being labeled as “at-risk”, such as:
- Individual traits
- Family traits
- School influences
- Peer influences
- Neighborhood conditions
- Hobbies/daily activities
It is clear that there are plenty of children that are at a greater risk of falling into this category; unfortunately there is no formula that can determine who is going to. Thankfully there are elements that play into the prediction of these children. Things such as gender, race, age, psychological/physiological characteristics and outside sources play into these predictions.
Age and gender are the two most powerful demographics that lead to violent behavior. A recent study shows that there is a consistent and greater involvement in African American boys in late adolescence when it comes to violent acts. Violent offences are inordinately committed by males. In a study that was conducted by the District of Columbia over juvenile violence found that there were 2,686 adolescents under the age of 18 charged with the four most serious offenses: homicide, aggravated assault, robbery, and rape. 82% of those convicted were males, close to 40% were of the ages 15 or younger and 98% were African American.
A homicide study in South Carolina found that over the course of 2 years (1992-94) 88% of the juveniles were male as well, while the mean age of the group was the age 15.8 and 82% were African American. Coincidentally, males are more likely to show earlier signs of aggression, specifically in the form of bullying. The assault and battery group averaged the age 15.6 and in the other serious offense groups averaged 15.1.
Based on a general conscientious, it’s indicated that violence peaks in males between the ages of 15-17 and slowly declines. Race, as stated above is the third leading factor when it comes to adolescent violence. Following the African American racial group, were Hispanics. It was discovered that violent and serious offender’s early onset of delinquency and violent behaviors anticipate a much more serious and long-standing violence among youth.
Contextual factors also contribute to the risks of violent behavior. These factors include family, school/community and peers; better known as outside sources. Poverty has a rate of including 41% of violent crimes, and 86% of these households were single-parent households ran by a female. In South Carolina, a study found that crime rate and social disarray had a higher rate of juvenile brutality among 264 different rural communities. It was also found that violence among adolescence was closely associated with ethnic heterogeneity and family disruption.
Milwaukee conducted a homicide study as well and interviewed juveniles from this town. They found after using their analysis of life history that 11/29 interviewed of the gang-related juvenile offenders were from incredibly impoverished areas, 10 of which came from single-parent families and 6 of them had experienced serious cases of in home brutality. Violence is one of the largest studied areas when it comes to the topic of at-risk youth because it is where the majority of children end up once through their early stages of disobedience and connects to all the areas that contribute to adolescents acting out.