Minor Problems Could Determine Teen Violent Behavior

Past experiences could trigger a cascade effect, inciting violence

New behavioral studies show that violence in teenagers may be a result of their past experiences, in that living in stressful environments and missing the affection of the parents may cause some children to develop deviant behaviors later in life. In families where parents stop providing unlimited affection to their youngsters once they reach middle-school, there is a higher incidence of violence reports, once the kids reach high school.

"The findings indicate that these trajectories are not inevitable but can be deflected at each subsequent era in development, through interactions with peers, school, and parents along the way. Successful early intervention could redirect paths of antisocial development to prevent serious violent behavior in adolescence," argues the new study, led by William McDougall professor of public policy, psychology and neuroscience, Kenneth A. Dodge. He is also the director of the Center for Child and Family Policy at Duke University.

The degree of monitoring and supervision children and teenagers receive from their parents has been proven to be directly linked to their performances in middle-school. Once these disappear, the teenagers are more likely to become more influenced by their peers, and also to gang up with other children with deviant behavior, which can cause an increase in the number of violent behavior reports.

The study also suggests that the roots of this type of behavior can be traced as far back as early childhood, when series of events can add up over time. Even the littlest misconception that children develop, in regard to their parents and close ones, can accumulate into a cascade effect that will eventually trigger deviant behavior.

Dodge says that the study he led should not be construed into a guide, in that it's not certain that an anti-social child would later become violent. He notes that there is an increased possibility for that to happen, but that there are some cases where his model simply does not apply.

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