If you see these immediate warning signs, violence is a serious possibility:
- Loss of temper on a daily basis
- Frequent physical fighting
- Significant vandalism or property damage
- Increase in use of drugs or alcohol
- Increase in risk-taking behavior
- Detailed plans to commit acts of violence
- Announcing threats or plans for hurting others
- Enjoying hurting animals
- Carrying a weapon
If you notice the following signs over a period of time, the potential for violence exists:
- A history of violent or aggressive behavior
- Serious drug or alcohol use
- Gang membership or strong desire to be in a gang
- Access to or fascination with weapons, especially guns
- Threatening others regularly
- Trouble controlling feelings like anger
- Withdrawal from friends and usual activities
- Feeling rejected or alone
- Having been a victim of bullying
- Poor school performance
- History of discipline problems or frequent run-ins with authority
- Feeling constantly disrespected
- Failing to acknowledge the feelings or rights of others
Here are some ways to deal with anger without resorting to violence:
- Learn to talk about your feelings - if you're afraid to talk or if you can't find the right words to describe what you're going through, find a trusted friend or adult to help you one-on-one.
- Express yourself calmly - express criticism, disappointment, anger or displeasure without losing your temper or fighting. Ask yourself if your response is safe and reasonable.
- Listen to others - listen carefully and respond without getting upset when someone gives you negative feedback. Ask yourself if you can really see the other person's point of view.
- Negotiate - work out your problems with someone else by looking at alternative solutions and compromises.
When you are angry, you probably feel:
- Muscle tension
- Accelerated heartbeat
- A "knot" or "butterflies" in your stomach
- Changes in your breathing
- Goose bumps
- Flushed in the face
You can reduce the rush of adrenaline that's responsible for your heart beating faster, your voice sounding louder, and your fists clenching if you:
- Take a few slow, deep breaths and concentrate on your breathing.
- Imagine yourself at the beach, by a lake, or anywhere that makes you feel calm and peaceful.
- Try other thoughts or actions that have helped you relax in the past.
Keep telling yourself:
- "Calm down."
- "I don't need to prove myself."
- "I'm not going to let him/her get to me."
- Stop. Consider the consequences.
- Think before you act.
- Try to find positive or neutral explanations for what that person did that provoked you.
- Don't argue in front of other people.
- Make your goal to defeat the problem, not the other person.
- Learn to recognize what sets you off and how anger feels to you.
- Learn to think through the benefits of controlling your anger and the consequences of losing control.
- Most of all, stay cool and think. Only you have the power to control your own violent behavior, don't let anger control you.