THE roots of violence tend to be complex. And often, they cannot be attributed to a single factor such as associates, entertainment or social environment.
Many elements may be involved.
Sometimes people resort to violence when they are oppressed, discriminated against, socially isolated, economically deprived or when they feel that they have no control over their life.
As is often seen at sporting events, people in groups or mobs seem to have fewer inhibitions against bad behaviour.
Why? They are â€œless aware of their own moral standards and are much more likely to respond to violent or aggressive cues,â€ says the book Social Psychology.
Such individuals, states another work, may become mindless puppets, losing â€œall the feelings of social responsibilityâ€.
The first documented murder in human history was committed by a man named Cain. (Genesis 4:1-8)
Inflamed with jealousy-influenced hatred, Cain murdered his brother, Abel, even though had warned former to control his emotions and promised to bless him if he did.
Substance abuse not only impairs physical and mental health, but also inhibits control centres in the brain.
The result is that a person under the influence may become more inclined to violent behaviour and respond more aggressively to provocation.
Lax criminal justice systems
Weak, incompetent or corrupt systems of justice directly or indirectly promote violence.
Parents are often shocked at just how graphic and sexually explicit some of the music videos are.
Can these images and lyrics really affect the way some teenagers behave? According to one study of 500 college students â€œviolent music lyrics increase aggressive thoughts and feelingsâ€.
Another recent study says â€œteens who spend more time watching the sex and violence depicted in . . . â€˜gangstaâ€™ rap music videos are more likely to practice these behaviours in real lifeâ€.
A sample consisting of 500 girls revealed that heavy viewers of â€˜gangstaâ€™ videos were more likely to hit a teacher, get arrested and have multiple sexual partners.
In recent years the computer has also taken on a prominent role as a moulder of the characters of young people.
â€œThe number of personal computers in the home has increased dramatically in recent decades,â€ says the journal Pediatrics.
A young person does not need to own a computer to have access to one, however. One researcher thus claims, â€œAbout 90 percent of young people aged five to 17 use computers, and 59 percent of them use the Internet.â€
This gives young ones unprecedented access to information – a good thing if the computer is used responsibly, with sufficient adult supervision.
But far too many parents have allowed young ones unfettered use of this medium.
Unsupervised Internet use may expose young ones to pornography.
The risks, however, do not stop there.
One parent lamented: â€œOur kids are making friends at school and in cyberspace – and, as a result, spending time with children whom we often donâ€™t get to meet.â€
Clearly, todayâ€™s youths are exposed to pressures and problems unknown to past generations, and their parents are not aware because the children do not disclose such information.
Zambia traditionally enjoys a positive reputation for stability in southern Africa. While several of its neighbours have stumbled through civil wars and violent clashes of varying degrees, it has held multiple elections, seen peaceful transitions.
There is need to preserve this heritage.
This is what mother Zambia has taught us since 1964 and this is what we should continue to foster.
Honestly, we cannot shed precious blood just to advance a political agenda. We can only develop our country when we move as one large family.
The author is a social commentator and a marketer working for the Zambia Daily Mail.
Just what breeds violent behaviour?