Anger management of children

Sometimes improper handling of children may lead to angry adults. This is not good, because this can hinder proper development of mentality and can lead to career unsuccessfulness.

Anger management is a very important thing for adults, as well as children. An angry child will not be that successful in his/her career, than a child, who can manage his/her anger and react differently to various situations. But, here, the anger management of children is taken under consideration.

We at https://newspsychology.com/ have found out, a child gets angry and reacts differently to various situations for various psychological factors. Sometimes it is seen that a child who is not nurtured properly with love and affection, and is taken for granted, reacts more violently to situations than children who is nurtured properly, with the guidance of both the parents. Let us discuss the reasons, why children behave differently and the ways to keep them cool.

The reasons behind child anger

Sometimes, the working parents have very less or no time for their children. Thus, they leave their children under the supervision of their maid, who take care of them. But this is not at all advisable. Sometimes, the maids do not know how to handle the children properly and they behave in the way, they do with adults. It has been seen in a research, that those kinds of children reacts violently to situations due to a changed mentality and psychology. A few families too, do not behave properly with their children and they overreact. You should surely scold your child, but before doing so, you should know, whether the mischief is expected from the age, and then react.

These are the little things, which all parents should do, to manage the anger of the small children in a proper manner. Hopefully all these will work. If it does not work, then it is always advisable to contact a psychiatrist who can help you and can give you some important tips. Our research work can help you to gain more knowledge in this endeavor. 

Chain of violence: Study shows impact on Palestinian and Israeli children

 Children exposed to ethnic and political violence in the Middle East are more aggressive than other children, a new study shows. And the younger children are, the more strongly they are affected, in a "chain of violence" that goes from political and ethnic strife, to violence in communities, schools, and families, and ends with their own aggressive behavior.

"Our results have important implications for understanding how political struggles spill over into the everyday lives of families and children," says psychologist Paul Boxer, lead author of the study.

The study, forthcoming in the peer-reviewed journal Child Development, was conducted by a consortium of researchers from the U.S., Palestine, and Israel, and funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, part of the National Institutes of Health.

For the study, researchers conducted three yearly sets of interviews with approximately 1,500 children and their parents living in the Middle East. Participants included 600 Palestinian-Arab families, 451 Israeli Jewish families, and 450 Israeli Arab families. At the time of the first interview, one-third of the children were 8 years old, one-third were 11 years old, and one-third were 14 years old.

"We found that over time, exposure to all kinds of violence was linked to increased aggressive behavior among the children," says Boxer, who is affiliated with the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research (ISR), and Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.

"We also found that these effects were strongest among the youngest age group, and that they appear to result from a chain of influence in which ethnic-political violence increases violence in families, schools, and neighborhoods, which in turn increases aggressive behavior among children."

In addition to collecting demographic information from the children's parents, the researchers assessed exposure to conflict and violence by asking parents and children a series of questions. Among them: how often a friend or acquaintance had been injured as a result of political or military violence; how often they had spent a long period of time in a security shelter or under curfew, and how often they had witnessed actual violence.

Children and their parents were also asked about the extent of their exposure to violence in the community that was not ethnic or political in nature, as well as violence at school, and violent arguments within the family. And children were asked how often in the last year they themselves had engaged in violent behaviors ranging from pushing someone, punching, beating, or choking someone, saying mean things, or taking others' things without asking.

They found that Palestinian children had the greatest exposure to violence, although Israeli Jews experienced more security checks and threats. Palestinian children also showed the highest levels of aggressive behavior. And males experienced more violence and displayed higher levels of aggression than did females.

"Importantly, we found that late childhood was a critical period," says L. Rowell Huesmann, a U-M psychologist who is a co-author of the paper. "The children who were 8-years-old at the start of our study were more susceptible than older children to the effects of witnessing violence. "


Journal Reference:

  1. Paul Boxer, L. Rowell Huesmann, Eric F. Dubow, Simha F. Landau, Shira Dvir Gvirsman, Khalil Shikaki, Jeremy Ginges. Exposure to Violence Across the Social Ecosystem and the Development of Aggression: A Test of Ecological Theory in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. Child Development, 2012; DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2012.01848.x

Leaders' emotional cues may predict acts of terror or political aggression

— Leaders often use rousing speeches to evoke powerful emotions, and those emotions may predict when a group will commit an act of violence or terrorism, according to new research published in the journal Behavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression. Analysis of speeches delivered by government, activist and terrorist leaders found that leaders' expressions of anger, contempt and disgust spiked immediately before their group committed an act of violence.

"When leaders express a combination of anger, contempt and disgust in their speeches, it seems to be instrumental in inciting a group to act violently," said David Matsumoto, professor of psychology at San Francisco State University.

As part of a five-year project funded by the U.S. Department of Defense's Minerva Initiative, Matsumoto and colleagues studied the transcripts of speeches delivered by the leaders of ideologically motivated groups over the past 100 years. The analysis included such speeches as Osama bin Laden's remarks leading up to the bombings of embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

The researchers analyzed the pattern of emotions conveyed when leaders spoke about their rival group and examined speeches given at three points in time before a specific act of aggression. They compared the results with the content of speeches delivered by leaders whose groups engaged in nonviolent acts of resistance such as rallies and protests.

Among leaders of groups that committed aggressive acts, there was a significant increase in expressions of anger, contempt and disgust from 3 to 6 months prior to the group committing an act of violence. For nonviolent groups, expressions of anger, contempt and disgust decreased from 3 to 6 months prior to the group staging an act of peaceful resistance.

Matsumoto says the findings suggest a leader's emotional tone may cause the rest of the group to share those emotions, which then motivates the group to take part in violent actions.

"For groups that committed acts of violence, there seemed to be this saturation of anger, contempt and disgust. That combination seems to be a recipe for hatred that leads to violence," Matsumoto said.

Anger, contempt and disgust may be particularly important drivers of violent behavior because they are often expressed in response to moral violations, says Matsumoto, and when an individual feels these emotions about a person or group, they often feel that their opponent is unchangeable and inherently bad.

"Understanding the preceding factors that lead to terrorist attacks and violent events may help predict these incidents or prevent them occurring in the first place," Matsumoto said. "Studying the emotions expressed by leaders is just one piece of the puzzle but it could be a helpful predictor of terrorist attacks."

This study was one of the first seven projects funded by the U.S. Department of Defense Minerva Initiative. The Initiative was established in 2008 to fund social science research on areas of strategic importance to U.S. national security policy.


Journal Reference:

  1. David Matsumoto, Hyisung C. Hwang, Mark G. Frank. Emotions expressed in speeches by leaders of ideologically motivated groups predict aggression. Behavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression, 2012; : 1 DOI: 10.1080/19434472.2012.716449

Strong female portrayals counteract negative effects of violent media for young adults

NewsPsychology (Aug. 30, 2012) — Men and women are less likely to experience negative effects to sexual violent media when watching a positive portrayal of a strong female character, even when that character is a victim of sexual violence.

Christopher Ferguson, Assistant Professor at Texas A&M International University, surveyed 150 university students in a controlled environment in a recent study published in the Journal of Communication. Each participant screened a variety of TV shows that portrayed women in different lights when it came to sexual violence. The results showed that men and women had less anxiety and negative reactions when viewing television shows that depicted a strong female character rather than a submissive one.

Past research has been inconsistent regarding the effects of sexually violent media on viewer’s hostile attitudes toward women. Much of the previous literature has conflated possible variables such as sexually violent content with depictions of women as subservient.

The submissive characters often reflect a negative gender bias that women and men find distasteful. This outweighed the sexual violence itself, giving credence to what Ferguson calls the “Buffy Effect” — named after the popular television show Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its strong lead female character.

“Although sexual and violent content tends to get a lot of attention, I was surprised by how little impact such content had on attitudes toward women. Instead it seems to be portrayals of women themselves, positive or negative that have the most impact, irrespective of objectionable content. In focusing so much on violence and sex, we may have been focusing on the wrong things,” Ferguson said.

“While it is commonly assumed that viewing sexually violent TV involving women causes men to think negatively of women, the results of this carefully designed study demonstrate that they do so only when women are portrayed as weak or submissive,” added Journal of Communication editor and University of Washington Professor Malcolm Parks. “Positive depictions of women challenge negative stereotypes even when the content includes sexuality and violence. In this way Ferguson reminds us that viewers often process popular media portrayals in more subtle ways than critics of all political stripes give them credit for.”


Story Source:

The above story is reprinted from materials provided by International Communication Association, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.


Journal Reference:

  1. Christopher J. Ferguson. Positive Female Role-Models Eliminate Negative Effects of Sexually Violent Media. Journal of Communication, 2012; 9999 (9999) DOI: 10.1111/j.1460-2466.2012.01666.x

Media violence consumption increases the relative risk of aggression, analysis shows

— As president of the International Society for Research on Aggression (IRSA) and with consent of the organization's elected council, Craig Anderson appointed an international Media Violence Commission last December to prepare a public statement on the known effects of media violence exposure, based on the current state of scientific knowledge.

The Iowa State University Distinguished Professor of psychology appointed 12 IRSA researchers to the commission, including Douglas Gentile, an ISU associate professor of psychology.

The Media Violence Commission's research-based report concludes that the research clearly shows that media violence consumption increases the relative risk of aggression, defined as intentional harm to another person that could be verbal, relational, or physical. The report is published in the September/October issue of the journal Aggressive Behavior.

"Basically, the commission looked at, 'What does the research literature say?'" Anderson said. "In addition, we asked them to make some recommendations, if they chose to do so, about public policy. It really was kind of an open-ended charge."

Members took a fair and balanced look at the research

A well-known researcher on the effects of media on children, Gentile says commission members took a fair and balanced look at all of the existing research to see if they could achieve consensus, and then summarized what they found.

In their report, the commission wrote that aside from being sources of imitation, violent images — such as scenes in movies, games or pictures in comic books — act as triggers for activating aggressive thoughts and feelings already stored in memory. If these aggressive thoughts and feelings are activated over and over again because of repeated exposure to media violence, they become chronically accessible, and thus more likely to influence behavior.

"One may also become more vigilant for hostility and aggression in the world, and therefore, begin to feel some ambiguous actions by others (such as being bumped in a crowded room) are deliberate acts of provocation," the commission wrote in the report.

The commission recommends that parents know what media their children and adolescents are using. Rating systems often provide too little detail about media content to be helpful, and in any case, are not substitutes for parents' watching, playing, or listening to the media their children use.

"Parents can also set limits on screen use (The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time for children under 2 and no more than one to two hours total screen time per day for children/youth 3-18), and should discuss media content with their children to promote critical thinking when viewing," the researchers wrote. "Schools may help parents by teaching students from an early age to be critical consumers of the media and that, just like food, the 'you are what you eat' principle applies to healthy media consumption."

The commission recommends improving media ratings

While most public policy has focused on restricting children's access to violent media, the commission found that approach to have significant political and legal challenges in many countries. For that reason, it recommends putting efforts into improving media ratings, classifications, and public education about the effects of media on children.

"Improving media ratings really has two pieces. One is that the media ratings themselves need to be done by an independent entity — meaning, not by an industry-influenced or controlled system," said Anderson, himself a leading researcher of the effects of violent media on children. "They need to be ratings that have some scientific validity to them.

"But the other piece is education, and if parents aren't educated — not just about what the ratings system does, but also about why it's important for them to take control of their child's media diet — then it doesn't matter how good the ratings system is, because they're going to ignore it anyway," he added.

Anderson hopes the final report will have value to child advocacy groups.

"Having such a clear statement by an unbiased, international scientific group should be very helpful to a number of child advocacy groups — such as parenting groups — in their efforts to improve the lives of children," he said.


Journal Reference:

  1. Media Violence Commission, International Society for Research on Aggression (ISRA). Report of the Media Violence Commission. Aggressive Behavior, Volume 38, Issue 5, September/October 2012, Pages: 335%u2013341 DOI: 10.1002/ab.21443

Simple tool may help inexperienced psychiatrists better predict violence risk in patients

Inexperienced psychiatrists are less likely than their veteran peers to accurately predict violence by their patients, but a simple assessment checklist might help bridge that accuracy gap, according to new research from the University of Michigan.

Led by psychiatrist Alan Teo, M.D., a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar of the University of Michigan, researchers examined how accurate psychiatrists were at predicting assaults by acutely ill patients admitted to psychiatric units.

Their results found that inexperienced psychiatric resident doctors did no better than a coin flip, whereas veteran psychiatrists were 70 percent accurate in predicting risk of violence.

However, when a brief risk assessment tool was applied to the cases that the junior doctors evaluated, their level of accuracy jumped to 67 percent, or nearly as good as the more experienced psychiatrists. Results of the research were published online Sept. 1 in the journal Psychiatric Services.

"The tool we used, called the HCR-20-C, is remarkably brief and straightforward. Like a checklist a pilot might use before takeoff, it has just five items that any trained mental health professional can assess," Teo says.

In light of recent violent events, such as the movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colo,, earlier this summer, Teo says predicting violence risk in psychiatric patients is an increasingly important topic.

"Given public concern about this issue, I think teaching our budding psychiatrists and others how to use a practical tool like this, and encouraging its use in high-risk settings is a no-brainer," he says.

In the study, researchers were able to assess doctors' accuracy by comparing patients who had assaulted hospital staff members with similar patients who had not been violent.

Because all patients received a threat assessment when admitted to the psychiatric unit, the researchers were able to compare a patient's predicted violence risk with whether they actually had a documented assault while in the hospital.

Incidents of physical aggression typically included punching, slapping, or throwing objects, as well as yelling, directed at staff members of the hospital. The patients studied had severe illnesses, often schizophrenia, and had been involuntarily admitted to the hospital.

Teo says this study is the first to compare the predictive success of violence assessment between experienced and inexperienced psychiatrists. The results, he says, highlight the importance of emphasizing violence risk assessment in clinical training programs.

"If trainees are indeed less able than trained and experienced clinicians to accurately perform risk assessments for violence, it's important to figure out a way to improve their accuracy," he says. "Our study shows that evidence-based structured tools might have the potential to augment training and improve risk assessment."


Journal Reference:

  1. Alan R. Teo, Sarah R. Holley, Mark Leary, Dale E. McNiel. The Relationship Between Level of Training and Accuracy of Violence Risk Assessment. Psychiatric Services, 2012; DOI: 10.1176/appi.ps.201200019

Why children with asthma are more likely to be bullied

New research has uncovered several factors which could explain why children with asthma are at an increased risk of being bullied.

The study, presented today (2 September 2012) at the European Respiratory Society's Annual Congress in Vienna, highlights the need for doctors to talk to children with asthma about bullying, as well as the impact the disease could be having in other areas of their life.

Bullying or teasing of children with any chronic medical condition is common, yet it is not always clear what factors contribute to this. Researchers from the Derbyshire Children's Hospital, in the UK, used data from the large six-country "Room to Breathe" survey of childhood asthma, to look at the factors associated with an increased risk of bullying.

Parents and children aged 7 years and above were interviewed as part of the study. Data was collected from 943 questionnaires which asked questions about conditions at home, lifestyle of parents and children and their overall experience of their condition.

The results revealed a number of factors associated with an increased risk of bullying. Factors such as a reduced participation with sport and feelings of sadness were significantly associated with an increased risk of bullying. Additionally, factors that could be improved, such as poor asthma control, parental smoking and parents' on-going worries about their child's health, were also associated with bullying.

Dr Will Carroll, from the Derbyshire Children's Hospital, said: "Our findings emphasise the need for doctors and nurses to speak to their patients about the effects their condition has on all aspects of their life. We know that bullying is associated with asthma and these findings can help us understand why this is case.

"A number of the factors identified are things that can be changed, such as participation in sport, asthma control and parental worry over their child's health. As doctors, we must work with families to ensure these risk factors are removed and work with schools and teachers to ensure children with asthma are able to participate in sports at a level that is safe for them."

David Supple, the parent of an asthma sufferer, said: ""When you have a child with exercise-induced asthma it can be really hard to get them to participate. You can be scared to push them — but the health and social benefits far outweigh the fear, and can help build a lifetime of confidence against bullying. We have made a real effort to include our son, Alex in as much sport as we can to ensure that he isn't excluded from different groups and to keep a wide balance of friends."

Violent video games not so bad when players cooperate

— New research suggests that violent video games may not make players more aggressive — if they play cooperatively with other people.

In two studies, researchers found that college students who teamed up to play violent video games later showed more cooperative behavior, and sometimes less signs of aggression, than students who played the games competitively.

The results suggest that it is too simplistic to say violent video games are always bad for players, said David Ewoldsen, co-author of the studies and professor of communication at Ohio State University.

"Clearly, research has established there are links between playing violent video games and aggression, but that's an incomplete picture," Ewoldsen said.

"Most of the studies finding links between violent games and aggression were done with people playing alone. The social aspect of today's video games can change things quite a bit."

The new research suggests playing a violent game with a teammate changes how people react to the violence.

"You're still being very aggressive, you're still killing people in the game — but when you cooperate, that overrides any of the negative effects of the extreme aggression," said co-author John Velez, a graduate student in communication at Ohio State.

One study was recently published online in the journal Communication Research, and will appear in a future print edition. The second related study was published recently in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking.

The CBSN study involved 119 college students who were placed into four groups to play the violent video game Halo II with a partner. The groups differed in whether they competed or cooperated in playing the game.

First, all participants filled out a survey about their video game history and a measure of their aggressiveness.

Those in direct competition played in multiplayer mode and were told that their task was to kill their opponent more times than they were killed.

Those in indirect competition played in single-player mode, but were told their task was to beat their opponent by getting further in the game.

In the cooperative condition, participants were told to get as far as they could through the game by working with their partner in Halo II's cooperative campaign mode. In this case, the pair worked together to defeat computer-controlled enemies.

The final group simply filled out the measures and played the game at the end of the study. Their game playing was not recorded.

After playing the violent video game, the same pairs of participants who played with or against each other took part in a real-life game where they had the opportunity to cooperate or compete with each other.

In this game, they played multiple rounds where they were given dimes which they could keep or share with their partner. The researchers were looking to see if they engaged in "tit for tat" behavior, in which the players mirrored the behaviors of their partner. In other words, if your partner acts cooperatively towards you, you do the same for him. Tit for tat behavior is seen by researchers as a precursor to cooperation.

The results showed that participants who played the video game cooperatively were more likely than those who competed to show cooperative tendencies in this later real-life game.

"These findings suggest video game research needs to consider not only the content of the game but also how video game players are playing the game," Velez said.

The second study, published in Communication Research, extended the findings by showing that cooperating in playing a violent video game can even unite people from rival groups — in this case, fans of Ohio State and those of their bitter rival, the University of Michigan.

This study involved 80 Ohio State students who, when they came to the lab for the experiment, were paired with a person who they thought was another student participant. In fact, it was one of the experimenters who was wearing an Ohio State t-shirt — or one from the rival University of Michigan.

One of the researchers made sure to point out the t-shirt to the student participant.

The student and confederate then played the highly realistic and violent first-person-shooter video game Unreal Tournament III together — either as teammates or as rivals.

After playing the video game, the participants played the same real-life game used in the previous study with their supposed partner, who was really one of the researchers.

They also completed tasks that measured how aggressive they felt, and their aggressive tendencies.

The results showed the power of cooperatively playing violent video games in reducing aggressive thoughts — and even overcoming group differences.

As in the first study, players who cooperated in playing the video game later showed more cooperation than did those who competed against each other.

It even worked when Ohio State participants thought they were playing with a rival from the University of Michigan.

"The cooperative play just wiped out any effect of who you were playing with," Velez said. "Ohio State students happily cooperated with Michigan fans."

Also, those participants who played cooperatively showed less aggressive tendencies afterwards than those who played competitively, at least at first. In fact, those who played competitively with a rival actually showed less aggression than those who played with a supporter of their own team.

"If you're playing with a rival, and that rival is cooperating with you, that violates your expectations — you're surprised by their cooperation and that makes you even more willing to cooperate," Ewoldsen said.

Eventually, even those who competed with each other in the video games started cooperating with each other in the real-life games afterwards.

"The point is that the way you act in the real world very quickly overrides anything that is going on in the video games," Ewoldsen said. "Video games aren't controlling who we are."

These results should encourage researchers to study not only how the content of violent video games affects players, but also how the style of play has an impact.

"What is more important: cooperating with another human being, or killing a digital creature?" Ewoldsen said.

"We think that cooperating with another human overrides the effects of playing a violent video game."

Other authors of the CBSN paper were Cassie Eno of Waldorf College; Bradley Okdie of Ohio State's Newark campus; Rosanna Guadagno of the University of Alabama; and James DeCoster of the University of Virginia.

Other authors of the Communication Research paper were Chad Mahood and Emily Moyer-Guse, both of Ohio State.


Journal References:

  1. J. A. Velez, C. Mahood, D. R. Ewoldsen, E. Moyer-Guse. Ingroup Versus Outgroup Conflict in the Context of Violent Video Game Play: The Effect of Cooperation on Increased Helping and Decreased Aggression. Communication Research, 2012; DOI: 10.1177/0093650212456202
  2. David R. Ewoldsen, Cassie A. Eno, Bradley M. Okdie, John A. Velez, Rosanna E. Guadagno, Jamie DeCoster. Effect of Playing Violent Video Games Cooperatively or Competitively on Subsequent Cooperative Behavior. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 2012; 15 (5): 277 DOI: 10.1089/cyber.2011.0308

A blueprint for 'affective' aggression

NewsPsychology (Sep. 4, 2012) — A North Carolina State University researcher has created a roadmap to areas of the brain associated with affective aggression in mice. This roadmap may be the first step toward finding therapies for humans suffering from affective aggression disorders that lead to impulsive violent acts.

Affective aggression differs from defensive aggression or premeditated aggression used by predators, in that the role of affective aggression isn’t clear and could be considered maladaptive. NC State neurobiologist Dr. Troy Ghashghaei was interested in finding the areas of the brain engaged with this type of aggressive behavior. Using mice that had been specially bred for affective aggression by his research associate Dr. Derrick L Nehrenberg, Ghashghaei and former undergraduate student Atif Sheikh were able to locate the regions in the mouse brain that switched on and those that were off when the mice displayed affective aggression.

“The brain works by using clusters of neurons that cross communicate at extremely rapid rates, much like a computer,” Ghashghaei explains. “One region will process a stimulus, and then that region sends messages to other clusters within the brain, like circuits within a computer. We looked at how the switches flipped in the brains of aggressive mice, and compared that with the brains of completely nonaggressive mice in the same setting, to see how the two processed the situation differently.”

They found that affectively aggressive mice demonstrated a large difference in the way their “executive centers” operated when the mice encountered another mouse. “Sensory inputs come in and are sent to the executive center, the part of the brain that decides how to respond to the input,” Ghashghaei says. “In the meantime, the information about the response you made gets processed back with either a pleasant or unpleasant association.”

According to Ghashghaei, the affectively aggressive mice could react violently because their brains are hardwiredto respond to certain situations aggressively without assessing whether their response to the situation is appropriate or without regard to the behavior’s consequences. In addition, affectively aggressive mice may be forming pleasant associations with their violent displays, which would reinforce their aggressive tendencies.

“We cannot say which of the two possibilities underlie the persistent aggressive displays by our mice,” Ghashghaei says, “but we can see that the patterns of neuronal activity are very different in the executive centers of these mice. Additionally, there are differences in the neuronal clusters involved with creating pleasant or unpleasant associations to the stimulus or their response. That gives us a few starting spots to begin identifying the mechanisms that underlie these profound behavioral differences.”

The regions of the brain that were involved in affective aggression in the mice are similar across all mammalian species. Ghashghaei hopes that his findings in mice will be useful to researchers studying violent behavior in humans, as well as aggression in other animals.

“With the brain, just knowing where to start looking is huge,” Ghashghaei says. “Once you have a few targets, you can tease out the possibilities and get to the heart of the problem. We are confident that manipulation of some of the identified targets in our study will disrupt displays of affective aggression in our mouse model.”

The researchers’ findings appear online in Brain Structure and Function.


Story Source:

The above story is reprinted from materials provided by North Carolina State University.

Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.


Journal Reference:

  1. Derrick L. Nehrenberg, Atif Sheikh, H. Troy Ghashghaei. Identification of neuronal loci involved with displays of affective aggression in NC900 mice. Brain Structure and Function, 2012; DOI: 10.1007/s00429-012-0445-y

One in three victims of teen dating violence has had more than one abuser

More than one-third of young adults who reported being victims of dating violence as teenagers had two or more abusive partners, a new study suggests.

The study involved 271 college students who recalled dating violence — including physical, sexual and psychological abuse — from ages 13 to 19.

Overall, nearly two-thirds of both men and women reported some type of abuse during their teenage years, which falls in line with other studies.

But it was surprising how many teen victims had two or more abusive partners, said Amy Bonomi, lead author of the study and associate professor of human development and family science at Ohio State University.

"For about one in three teens who were abused, it wasn't just one bad boyfriend or girlfriend. It may have been at least the start of a trend," Bonomi said.

The same patterns were not seen in similar population-based studies of adults, who tend to report abuse by a single partner, she said.

Well more than half of all teen victims reported multiple occurrences of abuse, with roughly 15 percent reporting 20 or more instances of some types of abuse.

"For most teens, dating violence is rarely reported as an isolated incident," said Bonomi, who is also an affiliate with the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle.

The study appears online in the journal BMC Public Health.

Among both males and females, psychological abuse — such as yelling, swearing, insults, controlling behavior, put-downs and name-calling — was the most common type of abuse.

One argument that violence researchers often hear is that behaviors like name-calling and insults aren't serious enough to be called abuse. But that's not true, Bonomi said.

"Studies in adults have shown that psychological abuse alone can be damaging to health," she said. She is currently studying whether the same is true for adolescents.

For this study, 271 students aged 21 and under at Ohio State completed a web-based survey about their dating history between ages 13 and 19.

The researchers used a method similar to what is called the timeline follow-back interview, which has been extensively used by researchers to study at-risk behavior such as substance abuse and risky sexual practices. However, this is the first time this type of interview technique has been used to study teen dating violence.

The technique involves asking participants to remember their most recent dating partner and asks questions about that relationship, and then works backward to the previous two relationships. This technique uses memory prompts, such as asking participants to remember the year they were in high school to facilitate recall of the age when a relationship began and ended.

The result showing that more than one-third of teen victims had more than one abusive partner was unexpected, Bonomi said.

"Our studies of adults showed that most women and men had only one abusive partner, so it was startling to find the number of teens who had two or more," she said.

For example, about 43 percent of women said two or more partners had pressured them into sex during their teenage years. About 60 percent of men said they had two or more partners who had sent unwanted calls or text messages.

Psychological abuse was the most common type of abuse reported in the study. The category of "yelling, swearing and insults" was the most frequently reported type of psychological abuse, noted by 43 percent of female victims and 44 percent of males.

Nearly 25 percent of females experienced sexual pressure due to a partner's persistent begging, compared to 11 percent of males. Fewer than 5 percent of women said they were hit or physically harmed, compared to 13 percent of men.

Some types of dating violence tended to occur at earlier ages than others, the study found. For females reporting dating violence, controlling behavior tended to occur early, with 44 percent reporting it between the ages of 13 and 15. For males, 13 to 15 was the most common age range for the first occurrence of put-downs and name-calling (60 percent).

Pressure to have sex was more likely to start at later ages, from 16 to 17 for women.

Bonomi said it was significant that college students were reporting this level of abuse as teens.

"There's a common belief in our society that dating violence only affects low-income and disadvantaged teens. But these results show that even relatively privileged kids, who are on their way to college, can be victims."

The results also call for better education in our elementary schools.

"Many of these kids are getting in relationships early, by the age of 13," Bonomi said. "We need to help them learn about healthy relationships and how to set sexual boundaries. It shouldn't just be one class session — it needs to be a routine discussion in school."

Bonomi conducted the study with Melissa Anderson of the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle; and from Ohio State, Julianna Nemeth, doctoral student in public health; Suzanne Bartle-Haring, professor, and Cynthia Buettner, assistant professor, both in human development and family science; and Deborah Schipper, of the Student Wellness Center.


Journal Reference:

  1. Amy E Bonomi, Melissa Anderson, Julianna Nemeth, Suzanne Bartle-Haring, Cynthia Buettner, Deborah Schipper. Dating violence victimization across the teen years: Abuse frequency, number of abusive partners, and age at first occurrence. BMC Public Health, 2012; 12 (1): 637 DOI: 10.1186/1471-2458-12-637