Every year, nearly one-million twelve to nineteen year olds are murdered robbed, or assaulted
many by their peers and teenagers are more than twice as likely as adults to become the victims of violence.
Although the problem is far too complex for any one solution, teaching young people conflict resolution
skills, nonviolent techniques for resolving disputes seems to help. To reduce youth violence, conflict
resolution skills should be taught to all children before they reach junior high school.
First and most important, young people need to learn nonviolent way of dealing with conflict. In a
dangerous society where guns are readily available, many young teens feel they have no choice but to
respond to an insult or an argument with violence. If they have grown up seeing family members and
neighbors react to stress with verbal or physical violence, they may not know that other choices exist.
Behavior like carrying a weapon or refusing to back down gives young people "the illusion of control," but
what they desperately need is to learn real control for example, when provoked, learn to walk away.
Next, conflict resolution programs have been shown to reduce violent incidents and empower
young people in a healthy way. Many programs and courses in Charlotte Mecklenburg are teaching teens
and preteens to work through disagreements without violence. Tools include calmly telling one's own side
of the story and listening to the other person without interrupting or blaming; skills that many adults don't
have! Peer Mediation, a Charlotte Mecklenburg public school program, starts in middle school; it trains
students to be mediators, helping peers find their own solutions to conflicts ranging from a fight over a boy
or girl friend to interracial gang disputes.
Finally, although this appears as just a "Band-Aid" solution that does not address the root causes