Massachusetts Medical Society: What Parents Can Do

What Parents Can Do

Preventing youth violence should address all levels that influence youth violence: individual, relationship, community, and society. Prevention efforts should ultimately reduce risk factors and promote protective factors.

Parents can take the following steps to help their children avoid youth violence:

  • Give your kids consistent love and attention.
    Every child needs a strong, loving, relationship with a parent or other adult to feel safe and secure and to develop a sense of trust.

  • Talk openly with your kids, and encourage them to talk about all aspects of their lives: school, social activities, and their interests and concerns.
    Listen respectfully and ask for their opinions. Then, if a problem or crisis arises, they will be more likely to come to you.

  • Make sure your kids are supervised.
    • Insist on knowing where your children are at all times and who their friends are.
    • Try to get to know their friends' parents and your children's teachers.
    • Encourage your children to participate in supervised after-school activities such as sports teams, tutoring programs, or organized recreation.

  • Be a good role model.
    • Deal with conflict at home calmly, considerately and quickly and manage your anger without violence.
    • Help your children learn how to find non-aggressive solutions to problems.

  • Keep your home positive, safe, and non-violent.
    • Always discourage violent behavior or hostile, aggressive arguments between family members.
    • If the people in your home physically or verbally hurt and abuse each other, get help from a psychologist or counselor in your community.

  • Talk to your children about the consequences of drug and weapon use, gang participation, and violence.
    • If you own guns, make sure that they are unloaded, locked up, and inaccessible to children. Other dangerous weapons should also be kept out of the reach of children.

  • Try to limit your child's exposure to violence in the home or community.
    If your children are exposed to violence in the street, at school, or at home, they may need help in dealing with these frightening experiences. A psychologist, a counselor at school, or a member of the clergy, are among those who can help them cope with their feelings.

  • Talk to your doctor, school counselor, or health plan about resources in your community.

--Adapted from the National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center

Tip Cards for Parents

The physicians of the Massachusetts Medical Society have developed a series of tip cards for parents aimed at preventing youth violence.

For all parents:

For parents of school-age children:

For parents of teens:

For parents of toddlers:

More Information

  • ACT Against Violence
    Adults and Children Together Against Violence provides handouts on managing anger, discipline, resolving conflicts, and media violence.

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