Editor’s Note: Maite Guachichullca, a Hispanic student from St. Laurence School in Highland Park, won third place for this essay about how to stop violence in the community. The contest was sponsored by the Upper Darby police department.

You hear about it in the news, on the radio and everywhere you go, and it is a growing problem. It is called youth violence, and it includes bullying, slapping, punching, weapon use and rape. In the past 20 years both homicide and suicide in the adolescent age group have dramatically risen.

Youth violence is reinforced by what is seen on television, the Internet, video games, music videos and movies and what is heard in music.

This violence is a result of discontent, anger, depression, the breakdown of families, drug and alcohol dependency, having to live on the street, being unloved and unwanted by families and obsessions with Satanism and death.

One of the most popular explanations given for violence among teens has to do with family. Many believe that abuse, neglect and other family problems are the cause for violence. This has yet to be proven true because of those few kids who come from stable homes and end up hurting others.

Many places have been plagued by violence, including schools. Adolescents in junior high and high schools have been letting their frustrations loose with peers and teachers, gunning down people, hurting them and killing them. Gangs and fights have also been a part of violence in schools, which include physical and verbal abuse.

Violence affects everyone and leaves its lasting impression behind. Especially on the victims of the abusers, who can suffer serious injury, significant emotional and social damage or even death. In the society we live in today violence has become a big part of life. We can either learn to live with it or try to stop it from spreading.

The best preventions include: treat each other with courtesy and respect; do not tolerate any violence in your home or anywhere else; have parents communicate more with their children; have interventions at an early age for prevention; and help those who are stuck in the grasp of violence get away from it. Although these are simple preventions most people do not follow them, and that’s why violence keeps slipping through the cracks and spreading to new places.

We need other solutions that can interest the public and maybe even help solve this problem. Some solutions may be community groups, after-school activities, workshops in anger management and conflict resolutions and, lastly, learning about the tragedies that violence has on the community and letting others know about it.

I believe that youth violence destroys life and happiness around the world. It causes many to suffer the consequences and to seek revenge. Yet we can still fight the battle against it and try our best to win. With persistence, determination, the right preventions and actions we can conquer violence once and for all. It is just a matter of faith in helping others and always doing what is right. That is my opinion on youth violence and how I would end it in my community.

– Maite Guachichullca