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Signs of Potentially Violent Behavior

he American Psychological Association (APA) teamed up with MTV in 1999 to produce "The Warning Signs," a brochure to inform teenagers of potentially dangerous behaviors in themselves and others.  The following indicators may point toward brewing violence.  If you identify any of these behaviors in your own child, contact a mental health professional immediately. 

These immediate warning signs could mean 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

The following signs occurring over a period of time means 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

For more information about "Warning Signs" or to order a free copy of the brochure, call
1-800-964-2000 or visit the APA's website at

Thirteen percent of Polk County's 6th-, 8th- and 11th-graders reported they had smoked cigarettes at least once in the month prior to being surveyed.

Fast Facts About Tobacco

icotine, the main drug in tobacco, is one of the most heavily used addictive drugs in the United States. In the 2002 Iowa Youth Survey (of almost 97,000 students), 13 percent of the Polk County 6th-, 8th- and 11th-graders surveyed reported that, in the month prior to being surveyed, they had smoked cigarettes at least once, 7 percent reported they had smoked at least 2-5 cigarettes per day, 5 percent reported smoking at least one cigar and 2 percent reported using smokeless tobacco.
Nicotine is highly addictive. It acts as both a stimulant and a sedative to the central nervous system. The user feels an almost immediate "kick" because it discharges epinephrine from the brain that stimulates the central nervous system. Stimulation is followed by depression and fatigue, leading the abuser to seek more nicotine.
Smoking cigarettes and marijuana are closely related. Research shows that youth

who smoke cigarettes are fourteen times more likely to try marijuana as those who don't.
Nicotine accumulates in the body. Nicotine is absorbed readily from tobacco smoke in the lungs, whether the smoke is from cigarettes, cigars, or pipes. It is also absorbed when tobacco is chewed. With regular tobacco use, levels of nicotine accumulate in the body during the day and persist overnight thus exposing daily smokers to the effects of nicotine for 24 hours each day.
Long-term hazards. Cigarette smoke is primarily composed of a dozen gases (mainly carbon monoxide) and tar. The tar exposes the user to a high expectancy rate of lung cancer, emphysema and bronchial disorders. The carbon monoxide increases the chance of cardiovascular diseases.
Second-hand smoke. The Environmental Protection Agency has concluded that secondhand smoke causes lung cancer in adults and greatly increases the risk of respiratory illnesses in children and sudden infant death.