Colorado kids blame
violence on intolerance
Colorado children blame
violence in their lives on a "culture that celebrates sameness, the
one right way to be 'in,' " according to a report issued today in
Denver and Washington, D.C.
One thousand Colorado students in fifth through
12th grades were polled, along with 1,000 children in those grades in
other parts of the country.
Researchers say the study, conducted by the
Colorado Trust and New York-based Families and Work Institute, is the
first to ask Colorado's young people what can be done to stop the
violence in their homes, schools and communities.
Children said teasing, put-downs and cruel
gossip constitute violence, which two-thirds of them say they
experience. That meanness then triggers the physical violence that
almost half of them have endured, according to the study.
"They talked a lot about accepting and wanting
to treat each other equally," said study co-author Kimberly Salmond of
the Families and Work Institute.
"What young people are saying is complex
because they are advocating for accepting the commonality, the basic
humanity of all people, while accepting each of our differences," the
The children, who filled out questionnaires,
proposed solutions to bridge people's differences beyond just race.
"Make everybody blind, so no violence was because of how people
looked," advised a 16-year-old Colorado boy quoted in the study.
A 17-year-old girl from Colorado cited as a
cause "stereotyping by adults. Adults expect teenagers to be violent,
disruptive people. I believe this only encourages the very behavior
that so many adults fear."
One in nine Colorado youths called for gun
control to quell violence.
"It would be that the people who make guns will
never make guns or fake guns again and I mean that," wrote a
12-year-old girl from Colorado. "No guns in the world."
A 16-year-old boy from the state wrote, "I
would do what Britain did, and take away handguns and restrict the use
of rifles to registered citizens."
Adults' take not the same
A basic discrepancy emerged between how youth
and adults saw violence, Salmond said. "If asked, adults would talk
about physical stuff; emotional stuff is below their radar screens,"
she said. "We assume emotional violence is not important to kids, but
it is important to kids.
"We think it doesn't happen as often as it
does. We think it shouldn't affect kids in the way it does, but it
does. (Emotional violence) really does impact the way kids see the
world and how they see themselves."
Almost half the students in Colorado and the
other places experienced physical violence, saying they were kicked,
shoved, kicked or tripped at least once in the previous month.
One in 12 experienced extreme violence, saying
they were attacked with a weapon, forced to do sexual acts or had
forced someone else to do sexual acts in the past month, according to
Good relationships help
Good relationships with parents, teachers or
friends tended to shield young people from violence, Salmond said.
"Kids with better relationships tended to be victims and aggressors
Colorado young people differed little from
their counterparts nationwide in how they experienced violence, except
that 47 percent of young people in Colorado felt "very safe" compared
with 39 percent of the youths' counterparts in the rest of the
Additionally, 49 percent of Colorado youths
responding in the poll reported they are more likely to bully, reject
or ignore others, compared with the national average of 43 percent.