January 19, 2001

After reaching tens of thousands of English-speaking youth with its Warning Signs youth anti-violence initiative, the American Psychological Association (APA) developed a Spanish language version of the Warning Signs guide available at no cost to the public.

The Warning Signs guide, produced in association with MTV: Music Television, is a key component of the APA's youth anti-violence initiative, which helps young people learn how to recognize the warning signs of violent behavior and what to do if they notice these signs in their peers or themselves.

"Having the guide translated into Spanish helps us realize the most important objective of our campaign -- getting useable information about the warning signs of violence into the hands of as many people as possible," says Russ Newman, Ph.D., J.D., executive director for professional practice at the American Psychological Association.

The APA developed the Warning Signs youth anti-violence initiative in conjunction with MTV. The main components of the program include the Warning Signs guide, psychologist-led community forums and a documentary seen by more than four million viewers on MTV. Thus far, more than 90,000 youth have attended more than 1,000 Warning Signs forums in schools and community centers across the country, and nearly one million Warning Signs guides have been distributed.

Some of the immediate warning signs of violent behavior described in the guide include plans to commit violence, carrying a weapon or frequent physical fighting, among others. Serious drug or alcohol use, withdrawal from friends or having been a victim of bullying are also warning signs that a youth may be at risk for violent behavior. The Warning Signs guide provides specific suggestions for teens to find help if they observe these signs in themselves or others.

"Violence is a learned behavior," says Newman. "The good news is, what we learn we can unlearn."

Victims of violence in America today are most likely to be between the ages of 12 and 24. According to MTV research, violence is the number one concern overall among its viewers. In a recent APA/Penn, Schoen & Berland poll, 40 percent of youth say they have been concerned about a potentially violent classmate.

The Warning Signs project is also part of the APA's public education campaign, "Talk to Someone Who Can Help," about the importance of good mental health and the role of psychological services. The Spanish-language Warning Signs guide is identical in appearance and content to the English version and was professionally translated and reviewed by Spanish-speaking psychologists to ensure accuracy. It is available free by calling toll-free 1-800-268-0078.

The American Psychological Association (APA), located in Washington, DC, is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world's association of psychologists. APA's membership includes more than 159,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants, and students. Through its divisions in 52 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 58 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance psychology as a science, as a profession and as a means of promoting human welfare.

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