World's dangerous neighborhoods produce aggressive children

January 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: Parents' work hours affect children

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

Related Stories

Parents' work hours affect children

December 2, 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

The hand and foot of Homo naledi

October 6, 2015

The second set of papers related to the remarkable discovery of Homo naledi, a new species of human relative, have been published in scientific journal, Nature Communications, on Tuesday, 6 October 2015.

Chimpanzees shed light on origins of human walking

October 6, 2015

A research team led by Stony Brook University investigating human and chimpanzee locomotion have uncovered unexpected similarities in the way the two species use their upper body during two-legged walking. The results, reported ...

Who you gonna trust? How power affects our faith in others

October 6, 2015

One of the ongoing themes of the current presidential campaign is that Americans are becoming increasingly distrustful of those who walk the corridors of power – Exhibit A being the Republican presidential primary, in which ...

The dark side of Nobel prizewinning research

October 4, 2015

Think of the Nobel prizes and you think of groundbreaking research bettering mankind, but the awards have also honoured some quite unhumanitarian inventions such as chemical weapons, DDT and lobotomies.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.