The recent rash of youngsters apprehended for heinous crimes has been very disturbing. What analysis has revealed is a generation under severe pressure to perform and who are exposed to violence in several forms ~ at home, neighbourhood, school and media, mainly television. At the same time, seeking help for behavioural changes is rare. And so, kids today are quick to react violently.

A colleague last week witnessed a mini gang war between children in the age group of 6-15 years. It was sparked off with four boys in their early teens walking by a construction site adjacent to a car workshop. They spotted three little boys sitting on a couple of tyres that they played with. The older boys demanded the tyres and the younger lot resisted. Soon some more boys joined in and a brawl ensued. The workshop workers intervened to separate the two groups though each continued to issue dire threats to the other.

Surely, the youngsters’ aggressive attitude reflects the environment they grow up in ~ mainly their families. Psychologists have noted that families and neighbourhoods where domestic violence is common, are known to influence the children to follow the same behaviour. A violent person, feared by the rest of the family and neighbours, quickly becomes a “role model” for children. “Might is right” is the rule they go by.

In well-to-do families, there may not be such blatant aggression by the older family member or neighbours. But there’s so much violence all around a child ~ right from the games one plays to the cartoons and films that a child watches. Children rarely release their enormous amounts of energy by way of outdoor games. This, say child psychologists, often finds release in the form of behavioural aberrations.