A major social problem that is facing the United States at present is "Teen Violence". Teen Violence effects all age groups in society; the victims of their crimes are not always teens. Nationwide, it is estimated that there are as many as 31,000 street gangs with a total membership of 846,000. In addition, almost three-quarters of cities with populations of more than 25,000 reported youth gangs in 1996. ("The 1996 National Youth Gang Survey," OJJDP Fact Sheet #86, Nov. 1998). This is a number that is rising steadily. Teens look to gangs as a means of protection from violence. As more teens look to gangs as a way of fitting in or feeling safe from the other teens around them, teen violence will always be a problem in society.
Violence is defined as the act of purposefully hurting someone or oneself. It is a learned behavior and Violence creates a cycle where we all end up affected in one way or another. Some teens can learn this at an early age. Violence represents acts in which a person gets hurt; there are more people getting hurt from teen violence than ever before. Between the years 1985 to 1994, the murder rate by teens rose by 172 percent ( FBI, Supplementary Homicide Reports). Teen violence need not hurt a person physically; it can also damage them psychologically, sexually or socially. Violence has even become the primary cause of death for American teens. Nearly 80% of all teenage deaths are the result of violence( FBI, Supplementary Homicide Reports).
Violence is a learned behavior. It can be reinforced consciously or unconsciously by family, peers or the media. While the teen population is on the decline teen violence is increasing at an alarming rate. Guns and especially handguns have played a major role in youth crime. The number of teen killings has quadrupled since 1984. When teens use violence against other teens they are not only hurting them physically but physiologically.