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"No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance."

Confucius


Addressing Youth Violence with Early Education

Understanding youth violence requires focusing on children before they become young adults. The Centre of Excellence for Early Childhood Development has released a report, “Early Learning Prevents Youth Violence,” that explores the stages of aggressive acts and how early learning can decrease or prevent violent tendencies later in life.

Aggressive behaviour does not develop at the onset of puberty but is apparent at all ages, if one knows what to look for. Aggression has been reported in infants; their demonstrations of anger emerge as screaming and angry facial expressions. True physical aggression appears for the first time between six and twelve months when babies have developed the motor control they need to make gestures.

Hitting is the most common form of aggression in two- to three-year-old children, and by the time they reach age four most children have the motor skills they need to commit the violent acts seen in adolescents and adults. However, by this age those tendencies are generally starting to decrease because children are better able to control themselves and are beginning to develop verbal skills and the ability to vocalize their frustrations.

It is important to recognize that aggression is natural, and it is not always a sign of behaviour problems. It is often, instead, an opportunity to teach the child alternatives to aggression and to encourage pro-social behaviour. Language development is an important part of this process, especially during the first three years of life when physical affection, responsive care and play, and teaching socially appropriate behaviours are pivotal for the brain to develop properly. This development provides the foundations for children to be able to express themselves throughout all stages of life without resorting to violence.



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