Psychological factors contributing to aggressive or violent behaviour of adolescents in secondary schools
Van Bosch, Elzané
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South African schools are quickly, and progressively, becoming arenas for violent behaviour. These days, schools are no longer considered safe and protected environments where children can go to learn, develop, enjoy themselves, and feel secure. Rather, schools are being defined as unsafe and dangerous settings for teaching and learning, plagued by various forms of school violence (Van Jaarsveld, 2008). According to De Wet (2003), the causes of school violence are numerous and exceptional to each violent incident. Research indicates that most perpetrators of school violence are in the adolescent stage of development (O‟Toole, 2000). Adolescence as a transition stage implies severe changes on both an anatomical and a psychological level, presenting psycho-social adjustment demands that could be too much for certain adolescents and end in dysfunctional adaptive behaviour such as aggression (Louw & Louw, 2007; Sigelman & Rider, 2006). According to Meece and Daniels (2008), there seems to be no single cause for aggression and it is seen as an interaction of the adolescent’s own characteristics, family environment, culture, peer relations and community. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether intra- and inter-psychological factors such as self related well-being, coping self-efficacy, general health and inter-personal relations contribute to manifested anger/hostility/aggression of learners in secondary schools. A quantitative research design of the cross sectional survey type was used to reach the aims of this study. The population included grade nine learners of four secondary schools who fitted the selection criteria. The size of the research group was N=512, which included male (N=217) and female (N=295), African (N=311) and White (N=201) adolescent learners. Quantitative data collection was done by means of the Personal, Home, Social and Formal Relations Questionnaire (PHSF) of Fouché and Grobbelaar (1971), the Coping Self-Efficacy Scale (CSE) of Chesney, Neilands, Chambers, Taylor, and Folkman (2006), the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12) of Goldberg and Hillier (1979) and the Aggression Questionnaire (AQ) of Buss and Perry (1992). A biographical questionnaire was also included to collect the participants‟ socio-demographic information. The empirical research was described and results reported in two manuscripts intended for publication. Descriptive statistics, reliability and validity of the measuring instruments used, correlations among the operationalized constructs, significance of differences on the scales for subgroups and regression analyses to identify predictors of aggression and moderating variables, were calculated. The results of the study indicated that although means and standard deviations correspond to those reported in literature for the same scales, the participants in this study manifested only moderate levels of the phenomena measured. The reliability and validity of the measuring instruments were mostly acceptable, with a few exceptions. Correlational results indicated that psychological factors have significantly negative relationships with aspects of aggressive behaviour, suggesting that the more psychological wellness and adjustment youth experience, the less they will experience or express aggressive behaviour. Significance of differences on several of the variables investigated was found between the gender and racial sub-groups with moderate to large practical effect. Furthermore, aspects of personal and social adjustment and of coping self-efficacy and mental health, significantly predicted features of aggression in youth who participated. Intra- and inter-personal aspects of psychological adjustment significantly moderated the strength of the relationships between coping self-efficacy and aggression as well as general mental health and aggression. These findings were theoretically expected and could be explained by means of research findings reported in literature and relevant theories. Conclusions and recommendations were discussed.
- Humanities