Teen Violence

I’ve been researching teen dating violence recently, so news regarding a study regarding the development of violence in children perked my interest.

I’ve been researching teen dating violence recently, so news regarding a study on the development of violence in children perked my interest. You need a subscription for the full article in Child Development, but Duke University has an online news release providing the highlights here.

Kenneth Dodge, PhD, and colleagues found that there is a cascading effect in young children such that discipline for minor behavioral problems at an early age can lead to increasingly more aggressive behavior. Children in this scenario create problems in their environment that challenge important people around them, such as parents, causing them to gradually withdraw. This promotes relationships with peers that support negative behavior, which can ultimately slide into violence.

This path to aggression is similar for both sexes, and the data suggests that children at biological risk can be identified by assessing temperament in infancy based on mother’s reports. That’s good news, since it offers plenty of opportunities for intervention.

I’m not convinced parents understand how big of an issue violence among teens is, and this research illustrates how a “boys will be boys” mentality could have far-reaching effects. The American Bar Association cites research/reports suggesting that while 81% of parents are unaware of teen dating violence as an issue, 33% of adolescents have actually witnessed it. Adding to the problem is the link between teen dating violence and pregnancy.

Food for thought.

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