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The Role of Socialisation, Emotional Regulation and Violence Exposure in the Development of Aggression in Adolescent Girls

1. Introduction

It is widely accepted that recently, crimes committed by young people (juvenile delinquency) have been seen to rise (Siegel, 2018). This has been attributed to emotional and behavioural problems associated with adolescence, such as poor emotional regulation skills (Moffitt, 1993; Caspi et al., 1996; Farrington, 2002). Girls are more likely to use relational aggression than boys (Crick & Bigbee, 1998), which may be due to the different socialisation processes that boys and girls experience (Baumeister & Bushman, 2002). Social skills play an important role in the development of aggressive behaviour in adolescent girls. Poor social skills are associated with increased levels of both relational and overt aggression in girls (Crick & Grotpeter, 1995; Slaby & Guerra, 1988). Social skills training programmes that focus on connecting with others and restraining aggressive impulses have been shown to be effective in reducing aggression in adolescent girls (Dodge et al., 2006). In this essay, I will discuss the concept of aggression, the different theories that have been proposed to explain its development, and the factors that influence its expression in adolescent girls. I will then go on to discuss the implications of these findings for intervention measures aimed at reducing juvenile delinquency.

2. The concept of aggression

2.1 Definitions of aggression

There is no single definition of aggression that is universally accepted by researchers. However, most definitions include some combination of the following three elements: intentionality, harm/injury and arousal/anger (Berkowitz, 1989; Bushman & Anderson, 2001). Intentionality refers to the fact that aggression is usually a purposeful behaviour that is directed at another person or animal. Harm or injury refers to the fact that aggression usually results in physical or psychological harm to the victim. Arousal or anger refers to the fact that aggression is usually preceded by some kind of negative emotion, such as anger or frustration.

2. 2 Types of aggression

Aggression can be divided into two main types: overt and relational (Crick & Cook, 1996). Overt aggression is physical or verbal behaviour that is intended to hurt or damage another person or animal. It can take the form of hitting, kicking, biting, hair pulling, slapping or name calling. Relational aggression is a type of indirect aggression that involves damaging another person’s relationships with others. It can take the form of rumours, gossiping, social exclusion or threats. girls are more likely than boys to use relational aggression (Crick & Bigbee, 1998). This may be due to the different socialisation processes that boys and girls experience (Baumeister & Bushman, 2002). Socialisation processes refer to the ways in which children learn about their culture and how they should behave. In Western cultures, boys are typically socialised to be independent and self-reliant, while girls are typically socialised to be cooperative and nurturing (Eagly & Carli, 2007). These different socialisation experiences may lead boys and girls to develop different types of aggressive behaviour.

3. Theories of aggression

3.1 Social learning theory

Social learning theory suggests that children learn aggressive behaviour by observing and imitating the aggressive behaviour of others (Bandura, 1977). According to this theory, children who are exposed to high levels of aggression, either through their own personal experiences or through observing others, are more likely to develop aggressive behaviour themselves. This theory has been supported by numerous studies that have shown that children who are exposed to violence are more likely to be aggressive themselves (Bandura et al., 1963; Eron et al., 1972).

3. 2 Social cognitive theory

Social cognitive theory suggests that children learn aggressive behaviour by observing and imitating the aggressive behaviour of others, but that they are also influenced by their own personal experiences and beliefs (Bandura, 1986). According to this theory, children who believe that aggression is a effective way of achieving their goals are more likely to be aggressive themselves. This theory has been supported by numerous studies that have shown that children who perceive aggression as a effective way of achieving their goals are more likely to be aggressive themselves (Bandura et al., 1963; Bandura, 1978).

4. Factors that influence aggression in adolescent girls

There are a number of factors that can influence the development of aggressive behaviour in adolescent girls. These include individual factors, such as poor emotional regulation skills, and social factors, such as exposure to violence or witnessing aggression. Poor emotional regulation skills have been found to be a significant predictor of both relational and overt aggression in girls (Crick & Grotpeter, 1995; Slaby & Guerra, 1988). Emotional regulation refers to the ability to manage one’s emotions in a healthy way. It is thought that girls who have difficulty regulating their emotions are more likely to lash out aggressively when they feel frustrated or angry. Exposure to violence has also been found to be a significant predictor of aggression in girls (Bandura et al., 1963; Eron et al., 1972). Girls who are exposed to violence, either through their own personal experiences or through observing others, are more likely to develop aggressive behaviour themselves. Additionally, girls who witness aggression are also more likely to be aggressive themselves (Bandura et al., 1963; Bandura, 1978). This is because witnessing aggression can lead girls to believe that aggression is a effective way of achieving their goals.

5. Conclusion

In conclusion, aggression is a complex behaviour that is influenced by a variety of factors. These include individual factors, such as poor emotional regulation skills, and social factors, such as exposure to violence or witnessing aggression. Girls who have difficulty regulating their emotions or who are exposed to violence are more likely to be aggressive. Social skills training programmes that focus on connecting with others and restraining aggressive impulses have been shown to be effective in reducing aggression in adolescent girls. In this essay, I have discussed the concept of aggression, the different theories that have been proposed to explain its development, and the factors that influence its expression in adolescent girls. I have then gone on to discuss the implications of these findings for intervention measures aimed at reducing juvenile delinquency.

FAQ

Relational aggression is a type of indirect aggression that involves harming someone by damaging their relationships with others. It can involve things like spreading rumors, excluding someone from a social group, or sabotaging someone's efforts to make friends. Overt aggression, on the other hand, is more direct and involves physical or verbal actions that are intended to hurt another person.

Some common causes of relational and overt aggression in adolescent girls include feelings of insecurity, jealousy, and competition for attention or resources. Girls may also engage in aggressive behavior as a way to cope with stressors in their lives or to assert their power and control over others.

The consequences of relational and overt aggression can be serious and long-lasting. Victims of aggressive behavior may suffer from anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, social isolation, and academic problems. Additionally, aggressive behavior can lead to physical fights and injuries.

Parents or guardians can help prevent or reduce aggressive behavior in their daughters by modeling positive social behaviors themselves, encouraging healthy coping mechanisms such as talking about emotions instead of acting them out, and providing consistent discipline for any instances of aggressive behavior.

Interventions or therapies that are available to help treat aggressive behavior in adolescent girls include individual counseling, group therapy, family therapy, medication management (for underlying conditions such as ADHD), skill-building programs (to teach anger management skills), and wilderness programs (which provide structure and support while also helping teens build confidence).

Some risk factors that make some adolescent girls more likely to engage in aggressive behavior than others include having a history of being victimized by other kids (which can lead to feelings of powerlessness), being exposed to violence at home or in the community (which can normalize aggressive behaviors), having easy access to weapons (which increases the potential for serious harm), having friends who engage in delinquent behaviors (which increases the likelihood of peer pressure), suffering from mental health disorders such as conduct disorder or oppositional defiant disorder ( which can increase impulsive and violent tendencies),and experiencing poverty or living in unsafe neighborhoods (both of which can contribute to high levels of stress).

Some things that can be done to promote positive social relationships and reduce conflict among teenage girls include teaching them how to resolve conflicts peacefully, encouraging them to participate in activities that promote teamwork and cooperation, and helping them to develop a strong sense of self-identity.

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