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In a classroom setting, children are running around the room and knocking their peer’s toys over without any concern for their screams or cries. Another child is pulling another girl’s hair as she is trying to reach for a baby doll in her hand. It makes you wonder why children in today’s world are acting the way they do. In the study that I chose to research is to determine whether aggressive behavior is increased when children are exposed to violence in the media, social influences, domestic abuse, and community violence. There are genetic contributions that increase the risk of children being more susceptible to aggressive behavior such as personality disorders, behavioral disorders, attention deficit disorder, and anti-social personality. Other important factors that influence children are exposure to social influences such as domestic abuse, community violence, and child abuse. And last, the media violence such as music, television, movies, and video games increases the risk of aggressive behavior. Children with aggressive behavior have more difficult time in developing self-control, personal relationships, and social skills. However, there are intervention programs that will assist in helping these children to cope with aggression that will reduce their behavioral issues.
According to Ferguson (2010) one main variable is the “…innate traits and motivation that direct individuals toward antisocial behavior…” (p. 161). The traits that are apparent in individuals may explain characteristics, or behavior patterns. Children that have certain characteristics or start to develop the behavioral patterns to either avoid interaction with others or become aggressive may be a genetic factor that is naturally within them. Therefore, not only will the environment influences have an impact, the beginning of a child being more susceptible to becoming anti-social and showing more aggression was already precedent. Part of characterizing children are some of the other behavioral factors such as impulse control, learning disability, ability to focus and concentrate, sociability, and personality.
Think of a child who gets frustrated or angry. What are some of the behavioral actions occur? Fists being tightly closed, growls, faced crunched up, screaming, yelling, throwing and kicking things, or even attacking people. These are indications of how the child is processing anger or frustration from within. It is not a belief that this child posses a gene that suggests for that child to be more aggressive than one that does not posses the gene. If a child is displaying a large amount of aggression within a specific time period, the assessments that will occur within a classroom setting will indicate that the child may have some sort of disorder. Attention deficit disorder, personality disorder, emotional disorder, or anti-social personality disorder may be several concerns from a teacher’s perspective. However, with genetic background there is not much that anyone can do to change what a child is born with. So the environmental influences are also assessed to determine how to alleviate the stress of aggression in children.
It is unfortunate to discuss the reality of how often children witness and experience child and domestic abuse. There have been numerous studies that demonstrate the negative implications that children who have witnessed or experienced domestic violence and child abuse are more likely to experience a wide range of adverse psychosocial and behavioral issues (Moylan, Herrenkohl, Sousa, Tajima, Herrenkohl, & Russo, 2010). The stressors of a violent home environment reveal the impact on how a child will learn about interacting with others. This may cause personal relationship issues from childhood to adolescence to adulthood. Imagine a child watching his or her parents fighting over an issue. That child is learning that fighting must occur in order to resolve a conflict.
The children that pretend to talk on the telephone usually use the same phrases and imitate conversations that they have overheard from a close adult. The mannerism in the language and even the way the child holds the phone will indicate that they have been learning how to speak on the telephone from someone they look up to. The matter of the fact is that children will be influenced to witnessing domestic violence. Some of the exposure to domestic violence will result in behavioral, social, and emotional problems; cognitive and attitudinal problems; and long-term problems. Children with behavioral, social, and emotional problems will have higher levels of aggression, oppositional behavior, fear, anxiety, depression, poor social relationships, low self confidence and self-esteem. Cognitive and attitudinal problems are lower cognitive function, poor educational performance, lack of conflict resolution, and pro-violent attitudes. Last but not least, long-term problems are higher levels of adult depression and trauma symptoms, lower self-esteem, and higher tolerance for violence (Dodd, 2009).
As children leave their home to attend school or play around in the neighborhood, they may witness community violence. This is an area where children interact with our community through social interactions and observing neighborhood incidents. When there are other children or teens that are displaying aggressive behaviors, this may increase the possibility of others to also grasp the idea of having to be tough in order to be part of a group in the community. Look at the societal norm of boys being physically aggressive and girls displaying relational aggression. The non-physical type of aggression is called indirect aggression or social aggression (Leadbeater, 2010). Recognize the important piece of boys also experiencing non-physical aggression to assimilate that this does not only happen with girls. However, our society will imply that boys are more aggressive than girls because they have higher energy and will be more physical. Conversely, boys also experience relational aggression through social humiliation, shame, and humility (Leadbeater, 2010).
Physical aggression may be directed towards objects, self, and other people. When aggression is directed towards objects, they are being destructive towards property. Aggression towards the self is causing harm and injury to oneself. With other people, the aggression is causing harm or injury to others. Physical aggressive behaviors are appearing on the media such as the television, movies, and video games. Interactive media is considered to be video games that are being played by children. The violent video games may have an impact on how aggression is implicated in cognitive development. The amount of time that children are playing these violent video games have a negative impact on a short and long term implication that it would increase aggression. Children are experiencing virtual reality games where they are actively participating, and the symbolically enacting out cruelty instead of just perceiving it (Bluemke, Friedrich, & Zumbach, 2010).
After a large amount of watching violence in movies, children will enact what they had watched to replay what occurred in the movie. This may be a fantasy and fun game for the children without understanding that their actions can seriously injure another person. As you see children kicking and punching considering it karate moves, they may unintentionally hit or kick another child where the consequence can be severe. Parents, teachers, and social workers may perceive this as an implication that the child was intentionally being violent. However, it can be argued that they are just having fun. With the development of technology, children have more access to movies and games.
Technology has developed to assure our society growth and advancement in ways of living life. However, this may not always be a great thing. Parents have become dependent upon the use of technology to entertain and manage their children’s time. There are several risk factors that come with technology when children are using it more than necessary. The dangers of technology may impact in ways of socioculture, cognitive, and well-being of a child. In socioculture; children are impacted by affecting their social development and increases the risk of playing alone. Another impact is that the children when using technology as a means to experience and learn about certain topics that will better benefit if they explore first-hand. The cognitive downfall is that children’s intellectual development, imagination, and linguistic development is inhibited. Then the dangers of spending time indoors more often than outdoor will endanger their health. Children can become addicted to technology and there is a risk of exposure to unsuitable content (Plowman, McPake, & Stephen, 2010).
What can parents do to reduce the aggression in children? There are many factors that can increase the risk of children of being aggressive through their experience and exposure to violence as discussed in this paper. However, there is not indication that when children are displaying aggressive behavior that it is a lost cause. There is always hope and determination to intervene and include positive changes to a child’s environment. With the help of the adults that are a part of children with aggressive behavior, the first step is to accept and acknowledge that aggression is an issue and can cause future damage if not addressed appropriately.
There are programs that will help children live more peaceful lives. A program called “Peaceful Kids” is developed to implement in a preschool age curriculum will create a developmental task in achieving (Sandy, & Boardman, 2000):
Self-identity (separating self from others)
Self-control (control of impulses and emotions)
Self-efficacy (sense of being able to accomplish things)
Self-esteem (increases validation)
Emotional competence (learning to recognize and identify emotions of self and others)
Prosocial behavior (sharing)
Communication (listening and asking questions)
Cooperation (working together)
Assertiveness (verbalizing one’s own desires and needs)
Problem solving (discovering options)
Conflict resolution (being able to resolve conflict)
This is critical in early childhood development because this is the first experience that children have in their social life. Learning about all these developmental areas will increase their ability to be around others and to socialize in a more positive way.
Family participation in middle school aged children and higher is of the essence in dealing with aggressive behavior. There are some challenges that occur such as divorce, relocation, job demands, television, community, religious activities, and athletic programs are all included (Quinn, Hall, Smith, & Rabiner, 2010). When parents are constantly bombarded with duties of activities, they will lack the time and ability to focus on the issues of behavior. When schools are informed of family issues or transitions, the strategy in intervention of aggressive behavior may help decrease the impact on school performance. Parent involvement and participation to work towards a goal will help change and treat the issues at hand. Group therapy is suggested for parents to help with their aggressive children.
It is imperative for families and teachers to come together as team as a means of developing strategies and goals to help with children that are aggressive. Parents that are over-whelmed, stressed, or unaware of the experiences that children are faced with may increase the risk of falling short of their child’s potential in becoming the best that they can be. Whether a child has already adapted to aggressive behavior or not; there are always ways to address the problems and find ways to deal with it positively.
Plowman, L., McPake, J., & Stephen, C. (2010). The technologisation of childhood? Young children and technology in the home. Children & Society, 24 , 63-74.
Quinn, W.H., Hall, D.B., Smith, E.P., & Rabiner, D. (2010). Predictors of family participation in a multiple family group intervention for aggressive middle school students. Journal of Community Psychology, 38 (2), 227-244.
Sandy, S.V. & Boardman, S.K. (2000). The peaceful kids conflict resolution program. The International Journal of Conflict Management, 11 (4), 337-357.