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olga-watkins

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  1. How we know what we know: ‘Lies, damn lies and statistics’ • All research findings do not have the same value • Need to critically assess information

  2. Gangs in schools • Youngsters drawn to peer groups for sense of belonging, purpose, protection • Schoolboys operating gangs in and around schools especially extortion, theft, rape • Boys in some cases are part of larger criminal gangs (Safe Schools Initiative, Min of Nat Security, 2008)

  3. Causes and facilitators 1. ‘Nature vs. Nurture’ • Since 1970s, more integrated framework (deWaal,1999) • Genetic studies on aggression highlight relative influences of genes & environment (e.g. Aseneault et al., 2003) • Environmental & genetic risk interact (Caspi et al., 2002, Fox et al., 2005, Jaffee et al,. 2007)

  4. Causes and facilitators 2. Aggression as adaptive • Traditionally seen as maladaptive e.g. peer disapproval • Since late 1990s adaptive role recognized. Evolutionary psychology suggests selection designed to solve problems in specific contexts • Adaptive function varies with age, context (Guerra, 2008)

  5. Causes and facilitators3. Possible adaptive functions: • Co-opting resources of others • Defending against attack • Deterring rivals from future aggression • Negotiating status and power • Inflicting costs on same-sex rivals

  6. Causes and facilitators 4. Aggression can result in : • Status and honour (e.g. violent gangs) • Popularity and admiration within peer group • Material goods, protection, power, deterrence (Fagan & Wilkinson, 1998; Guerra, 1998)

  7. Causes and facilitators 5. Aggression - a ‘multiply determined behaviour Individual factors • Personality • Temperament • Neuropsychological functioning • Biological predispositions

  8. Causes and facilitators 6. Contextual factors • Parenting practices • Family socialization • Peer influences • School environment • Community disadvantage (Eron, 1987)

  9. Risk factors in Jamaica I Study of aggression-related factors in Primary schools II Case control study of aggressive and prosocial boys III Long term follow-up of aggressive & prosocial boys

  10. I Study of aggression related factors in Primary schools 30 Primary level urban schools - interviews • 30 Principals • 185 Selected teachers • 1416 grade 5 children • Extensive Observations • School plant • Classroom behavior • Playground behavior (Meeks Gardner, Powell, Grantham-McGregor, 2001)

  11. Aggression Level Directly related to: • Violence in community • Children seen dead bodies • Corporal punishments at school

  12. Aggression Level Negatively related to: • Praise for good work • Displaying children’s work • Giving more homework

  13. II Case control study of aggressive and prosocial boys Sample • 101 aggressive boys • from grades 5 & 6 • 101 prosocial boys • matched by grade • (Meeks Gardner, Powell, Grantham-McGregor, 2001; 2007)

  14. Measurements Boys: - Questionnaires - School achievement tests - Verbal IQ (PPVT) - Anthropometry - Observations Parents: - Questionnaires - Child behaviour (Rutter) Teacher: - Child behaviour (Rutter)

  15. Child characteristics Spelling/ reading Hyperactivity R2=0.10 Environment variables Exposure to violence Parent’s commitment to education Prays/ church Parents’ marital status Beatings (hand) Beatings (belt) Independent variables different between the groups R2=0.28

  16. III Follow-up of aggressive & prosocial cohorts • Boys aggressive at age 11 years continued to be more violent at age 17 years • Poorer school achievement • Greater school drop-out (Meeks Gardner et al, 2004)

  17. Impacts and Outcomes • Within adaptive framework, aggression and violence can have positive benefits. • May resist interventions to reduce this behaviour • Strategy to change adaptive value needed

  18. What can be done? Comprehensive, multi-faceted approach required • Policy-related • Interventions and treatments • Research and monitoring