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7 Ways to Curb Kids' Exposure to Violence

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Take Kids' Violent Behavior Seriously

The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) says that violent or aggressive behavior can begin as early as preschool. Adults may shrug it off as the child "just being a kid," but some violent behavior in children and teens should raise a red flag, including: explosive temper tantrums, physical aggression, fighting, threats or attempts to hurt others (including homicidal thoughts), use of weapons, cruelty toward animals, fire-setting, intentional destruction of property, and vandalism.

"Parents and teachers should be careful not to minimize these behaviors in children," the AACAP says. Kids may not "grow out of it." Adults should speak up if their child is a victim of such behavior, and seek professional mental health treatment if their own child has intense and frequent outbursts or other "red flag" behaviors — especially if they overlap with other risk factors for violence, such as: a family history of violence, exposure to violence in the media or community, presence of firearms in the home, personal use of drugs or alcohol, family stress (divorce, physical/sexual abuse, or parent's substance abuse), or socioeconomic issues (poverty or parent's unemployment). The earlier a child gets treatment — with continued follow-up care — the better the chance of reducing the impact of these factors for violence.

In addition to help that may be available through your child's school, there are many additional resources for families dealing with children who are violent or at-risk for becoming violent:

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