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

French teen finds 560,000 year-old tooth (Update)

July 28, 2015

A 16-year-old French volunteer archaeologist has found an adult tooth dating back around 560,000 years in southwestern France, in what researchers hailed as a "major discovery" Tuesday.

Oldest known Koran text fragments discovered

July 23, 2015

Two pages of text written on parchment that are believed to be sections of the Koran (Chapters 18 and 20) have been discovered by a PhD student in a British university library and are believed to be the oldest ever found. ...

0 comments

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.