CHAPTER THREE THE FAMILY AS AN EXTERNAL DETERMINANT OF AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOUR
In the light of the acquisition of aggressive behaviour as discussed in Chapter two it has been shown that some of the theories regard the modelling of aggression in the family as an important determinant for imitation or learned behaviour. It is therefore important to explore family life as an external determinant of aggressive behaviour and establish how this factor contributes to adolescent aggressive behaviour.
There is, in nearly all accounts of dysfunctional families, an overriding emphasis on the difficulties and problems its members’ experience. The experience of living in a home that is unstable, for whatever reason, is unbearable and leaves its members with emotional scars. These emotional scars take time and are not easily healed. They pervade the present and threaten the future expectations of the victims. Unresolved problems or inhibited emotions do not automatically disappear but accumulate and often find destructive channels. These channels continue haunting, disturbing and shattering the hopes of the individual. The one involved becomes vulnerable and heightened emotions lead to aggressive behaviour (Gasa 2001:10).
Some homes may appear intact but have a pervasive oppositional style. These homes may be characterised as being dysfunctional and cause its members to be aggressive. The members adopt an aggressive style of behaviour as a form of seeking help or attention and in order to cope in that unconducive climate (Gasa 2001:10). This was confirmed by Heavens (2001:71) who states, Conflict, high discord and poor and uncooperative communication between parents are more likely to result in poor adjustment by the adolescent. Even in the previous chapter it is made clear that frustration produces aggressive energy which activates aggressive behaviour (see section 2.4). If the adolescents are frustrated because of witnessing conflict between their parents, they may resort to aggressive behaviour. Witnessing violence between parents is also an important factor that causes aggressive behaviour. The social learning theory illustrates that people learn by observing models, for example, parents. Observation of others (parents) who engage in aggressive behaviour causes emotional arousal in the observers (adolescents), which may increase the likelihood of imitative aggression or may heighten the intensity of aggressive responses (see section 2.8).
This chapter will put more emphasis on the family factors that are responsible for shaping the behaviour of the adolescents. The pressure that divorce, separation and single parenthood exert on adolescents, the involvement or witnessing interfamilial adult violence, the exposure to severe physical discipline (abuse), the excessive use of drugs and the low socio-economic status of parents will be dealt with in length in this chapter.
AGGRESSION AND THE DYSFUNCTIONAL FAMILY
The dysfunctional family can be traced to unconducive family relations and other adjustment issues, family stress, conflict and poor communication among its members. These aspects are caused by different problems that the family is exposed to, like divorce and separation, domestic violence, abusive parents, substance dependency and socio-economic status of the parents. In this regard, Heavens (2001:53) states, The family is a powerful socializing agent and the quality of attachment and bonding processes between parent and infant in the first few months and years of life are important for the later emotional health of the individual. Family is regarded as an important support system available to the child and adolescent. Consequently, any disturbance of this support system through factors such as parental separation and negative parenting style, have implications for adolescent functioning.
These problems will be singled out and discussed in broad terms so as to identify their connection to aggressive behaviour or how they incite those involved to become aggressive.
Divorce, separation and single parenthood
Divorce is defined as a termination of marriage officially by competent court of law or legal dissolution of marriage between husband and wife. Separation is defined as the arrangements by which husband and wife remain married but live apart. In most cases this occurs when the married couple has reached the point of the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, sometimes when they are waiting for the divorce papers to be served (The Hutchinson Dictionary of Ideas 1995:153).
According to Lawson, Peterson and Lawson (1983:169) divorce is a major source of stress for the whole family. But adolescents are affected more because of their adolescence experiences. Adolescents who are victims of divorce may suddenly display deviant or misbehaviour (Sandberg 1987:54), Lauer (1986:449) concurs when he states, Broken homes and homes in which parents frequently quarrel have been linked to stress in children and stress often results in physical and emotional illness. Divorce does not end there but also brings unpredictability, unreliability and insecurity into the adolescent’s world. Bewilderment, anxiety, anger, grief, and shame are common responses (Elliot 1986:149; Rice 1996:354).
Hampton, Guillotta, Adams, Potter III and Weissberg (1993:116) define violence as an act performed with the intention of causing physical pain or injury to another person. The Department of Justice in Pretoria reveals that about 2297 cases of domestic violence were reported in Pretoria in 2001. Domestic violence occurs in physical, emotional, psychological and sexual forms developed to perpetuate intimidation, power, and control of the abuser over the abused. It usually involves parents, the husband abusing the wife and sometimes children become part of the quarrel.
A home with continual conflict and coldness can be very damaging to the children. Unhappy homes have a record of producing children with deviant behaviour, delinquency and maladjustment (Lauer 1986:453). McWhirter et al (1998:48) also concur saying: The psychological effect of family violence on the development of a child is wholly negative, whether the violence is experienced or only witnessed. Downs and Miller (1998:66) confirm that experiences of parental violence in childhood can cause immoral behaviour in adulthood. Some children may not cope with traumatic memories brought about by their parent’s violence. They feel powerless, if not overly powerful, to control people and events. Sometimes they experience emotional sensitivity and difficulty with emotional expression. Failure to express emotions can affect their behaviour and burst into aggressiveness (Ammerman & Hersen 1991:243).
According to Robbins (2000:66) witnessing angry exchanges between parents causes distress in the child. It is most distressing for the child who witnesses episodes of domestic violence, such as his father striking and injuring his mother. The child may want to retaliate, although he is powerless to do that. This might result in a child reacting with anger, anxiety and despair. This means the child might be at risk of becoming aggressive himself. Fraczek and Zumkley (1992:172) outline this clearly when saying: Parents influence the child’s behaviour intentionally or unintentionally, depending on how they themselves behave. Aggressive children often have aggressive parents as a model for their behaviour. Parental conflict is often highly disturbing to children and can provoke
conflict. When children observe high levels of destructive conflict, their functioning might be affected and they may develop tendency to feel threatened by conflict. Taking responsibility for causing or resolving it may lead to greater feelings of anxiety, depression, or helplessness that might develop into aggressive behaviour (Grych & Jouriles 2000:85).
CHAPTER ONE: AN INTRODUCTORY ORIENTATION
1.2 PROBLEM ANALYSIS
1.3 THE OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
1.4 DEMARCATION OF THE FIELD OF INVESTIGATION
1.5 DEFINITION OF CONCEPTS
1.6 THE RESEARCH METHOD
1.7 PLAN OF STUDY
CHAPTER TWO: THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVE ON ACQUISITION OF AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOUR
2.2 GENETIC AND BIOLOGICAL THEORIES OF AGGRESSION
2.3 INSTINCTUAL BEHAVIOUR THEORY
2.4 FRUSTRATION-AGGRESSION THEORY
2.5 AGGRESSIVE-CUE THEORY
2.6 BUSS’S THEORY OF AGGRESSION
2.7 TWO-FACTOR THEORY OF EMOTIONS
2.8 THEORY OF EXCITATION TRANSFER
2.9 SOCIAL LEARNING THEORY
2.10 BEHAVIOURAL THEORY
CHAPTER THREE: THE FAMILY AS AN EXTERNAL DETERMINANT OF AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOUR
3.2 AGGRESSION AND THE DYSFUNCTIONAL FAMILY
CHAPTER FOUR: SCHOOL AND SOCIETY AS EXTERNAL DETERMINANTS OF AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOUR
4.2 AGGRESSION AND UNCONDUCIVE SCHOOL CLIMATE
4.3 AGGRESSION AND SOCIETY
CHAPTER FIVE: RESEARCH DESIGN
5.2 RESEARCH QUESTIONS AND HYPOTHESES
5.3 THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN QUANTITATIVE AND QUALITATIVE METHODS
5.4 THE USE OF QUANTITATIVE METHODS
5.5 THE USE OF QUALITATIVE METHODS
CHAPTER SIX: DATA ANALYSIS AND INTERPRETATIONS
6.2 RESULTS OF QUANTITATIVE SURVEY
6.3 RESULTS OF THE QUALITATIVE SURVEY
CHAPTER SEVEN: PREVENTION PROGRAMMES FOR AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOUR
7.2 OBTAINAING PARENTAL CONSENT
7.3 INVOLVING PARENTS IN THE INTERVENTION
7.4 THE ROLE OF SCHOOL PERSONNEL
7.5 THE ROLE OF THE COMMUNITY
7.6 THE RADS PEER SUPPORT (RPS) PROGRAMME
7.7 POSSIBLE SUGGESTED PROGRAMME
CHAPTER EIGHT: CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
8.2 CONCLUSIONS FROM THE LITERATURE STUDY
8.3 CONCLUSION FROM EMPIRICAL INVESTIGATION
GET THE COMPLETE PROJECT
LEARNERS’ AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOUR IN SECONDARY SCHOOL: A PSYCHO-SOCIAL PERSPECTIVE