Children in violent households likely be violent as adults

September 25th, 2008 - 3:56 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Sep 25 (IANS) Children who grow up in aggressive or violent households are more likely to become violent or aggressive in future relationships. What has been unclear is the link between witnessing aggressive behaviour as a child and carrying it out as an adult. What changes occur in a child that affect whether he or she will choose to deal with conflict in aggressive or violent ways?

Researchers from Indiana University’s (IU) department of psychological and brain sciences aver that children in aggressive households may learn to process social information differently than their peers who grow up in peaceful environments.

“Children with high-conflict parents are more likely to think that aggressive responses would be good ways to handle social conflicts,” said John Bates, a professor of psychology at IU and co-author of the study.

“This partly explains why they are more likely as young adults to have conflict in their own romantic relationships.” Unlocking the developmental link between growing up in an aggressive or violent household and becoming the perpetrator of such behaviour could prove useful for stopping the cycle of violence.

Bates began collecting data for this study in 1987. Parents and children were recruited from Nashville and Knoxville and Bloomington. When the children were five, they and their parents were interviewed, according to an Indiana University press release.

At ages 13 and 16, the adolescent offspring were presented with hypothetical social situations and asked to express their perceptions and reactions to the events as well as predict what they would have done in the situation.

From ages 18-21, the offspring reported on the amount of aggressive behaviour in their romantic relationships. Researchers continue to follow participants and plan on using this data set for future studies.

The study appeared in the Journal of Family Psychology.

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