World's dangerous neighborhoods produce aggressive children

Jan 22, 2014

Children around the world who grow up in dangerous neighborhoods exhibit more aggressive behavior, says a new Duke University-led study that is the first to examine the topic across a wide range of countries.

Many U.S. studies have described a link between and 's . Authors of the new study wanted to determine whether the pattern held true in other cultures. To find out, researchers interviewed parents and children from 1,293 families in nine countries: China, Colombia, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, the Philippines, Sweden, Thailand and the United States.

The study appears online today in the journal Societies.

The researchers asked families a series of questions about dangers in their neighborhoods. Based on the answers, the researchers scored the neighborhoods according to their degree of danger.

To measure children's aggressive behavior, researchers asked parents and children to complete a widely used child-behavior checklist that captures behaviors such as screaming and threatening people. The researchers sought answers from mothers, fathers and children for the surveys, in order to obtain a fuller portrait.

In neighborhoods that parents described as highly dangerous, children exhibited higher levels of aggressive behavior. This link held true across all nine countries studied, based on parents' responses, said lead author Ann T. Skinner, a researcher with Duke's Center for Child and Family Policy.

"This is an incredibly diverse set of countries from around the world, representing countries from the developing and the developed world and including individualistic and collectivist societies," Skinner said. "In all the countries we studied, we see that living in a dangerous neighborhood may affect kids negatively."

The study further suggests that perilous neighborhoods may affect children indirectly, through their parents. In all nine , when children reported living in more dangerous neighborhoods, harsh parenting practices were more common, as was child aggression. However, adults' and children's perceptions differed on that point. More research is needed to determine whether or not dangerous promote harsh parenting practices, Skinner said.

Explore further: Use of spanking exacerbates aggressive child behavior

More information: "Neighborhood Danger, Parental Monitoring, Harsh Parenting and Child Aggression in Nine Countries," Ann. T. Skinner, Dario Bacchini, Jennifer E. Lansford, Jennifer W. Godwin, Emma Sorbring, Kenneth A. Dodge et al., Societies, January 22, 2014, 4, 45-67; DOI: 10.3390/soc4010045

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Parents' work hours affect children

Dec 02, 2013

A comprehensive review of studies on parents' work schedules and child development spanning the last three decades shows that parents' work schedules in evenings, nights and weekends, so called "nonstandard work schedules" ...

Recommended for you

Congressional rift over environment influences public

12 hours ago

American citizens are increasingly divided over the issue of environmental protection and seem to be taking their cue primarily from Congress, finds new research led by a Michigan State University scholar.

Decoding ethnic labels

Jul 30, 2014

If you are of Latin American descent, do you call yourself Chicano? Latino? Hispanic?

Local education politics 'far from dead'

Jul 29, 2014

Teach for America, known for recruiting teachers, is also setting its sights on capturing school board seats across the nation. Surprisingly, however, political candidates from the program aren't just pushing ...

First grade reading suffers in segregated schools

Jul 29, 2014

A groundbreaking study from the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute (FPG) has found that African-American students in first grade experience smaller gains in reading when they attend segregated schools—but the ...

User comments : 0