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ORIGINAL ARTICLE  
Year : 2013  |  Volume : 38  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 109-113
 

Magnitude, types and sex differentials of aggressive behaviour among school children in a rural area of West Bengal


Department of Epidemiology, All India Institute of Hygiene and Public Health, Bidhan Nagar Campus, Block-JC, Sector-III, Salt Lake City, Kolkata, West Bengal, India

Date of Submission29-Aug-2011
Date of Acceptance09-Jan-2013
Date of Web Publication23-May-2013

Correspondence Address:
Debashis Dutt
Department of Epidemiology, 11/2A, New Santoshpur Main Road, Kolkata - 700 075, West Bengal
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0970-0218.112447

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   Abstract 

Background: Aggression affects academic learning and emotional development, can damage school climate and if not controlled early and may precipitate extreme violence in the future. Objective s : (1) To determine the magnitude and types of aggressive behavior in school children. (2) To identify the influence of age and sex on aggressive behavior. Materials and Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted in Anandanagar High School, Singur village, West Bengal. Participants were 161 boys and 177 girls of classes VII to IX. The students were asked to complete a self-administered questionnaire indicating the types of aggressive behavior by them in the previous month and to assess themselves with reference to statements indicating verbal/physical aggression. Results: Overall, 66.5% of the children were physically aggressive in the previous month: Boys 75.8%, girls 58.2% ( P = 0.001); 56.8% were verbally aggressive: Boys 55.2%, girls 61% ( P = 0.97). Verbal indirect passive aggression was more common among girls (55.3%) than among boys (22.3%) ( P = 0.000 [1.17E09 ]). Boys were more liable to physical aggression, viz. 60.2% of the boys would hit on provocation compared with only 9% of the girls ( P = 0.000 [6.6E -23 ]). Regarding attributes indicating verbal aggression, girls were more argumentative (63.8%) than boys (55.2%) ( P = 0.134) and disagreeing (41.8%) compared with boys (33.5%) ( P = 0.145). With increasing age/class, physical direct active aggression decreased while physical indirect passive and verbal indirect passive aggression increased. No classes had been taken on anger control/management by school the authorities. Conclusions: Aggressive behavior was common both among boys and girls. Life skills education/counseling/classroom management strategies are recommended.


Keywords: Aggression, active, children, passive, physical, verbal


How to cite this article:
Dutt D, Pandey GK, Pal D, Hazra S, Dey TK. Magnitude, types and sex differentials of aggressive behaviour among school children in a rural area of West Bengal. Indian J Community Med 2013;38:109-13

How to cite this URL:
Dutt D, Pandey GK, Pal D, Hazra S, Dey TK. Magnitude, types and sex differentials of aggressive behaviour among school children in a rural area of West Bengal. Indian J Community Med [serial online] 2013 [cited 2019 Dec 10];38:109-13. Available from: http://www.ijcm.org.in/text.asp?2013/38/2/109/112447



   Introduction Top

"Yesterday, a 17 year old school boy was attacked by his junior with a paper cutter in the school premises in Delhi Cantonment". [1] The boy opposed the lewd remarks passed by the accused against his sister studying in the same school. The boy was lucky to have survived the injuries, unlike a student of Euro International School, who was shot dead by his classmate in Gurgaon". [1]

The above indicates the serious nature that aggressive behavior has assumed in school children. In the United States, in 2006, there were 29 violent crimes at school per 1,000 students, which included rape, sexual and aggravated assault and robbery. [2] The youth risk behavior surveillance in 2007 reported that 27.1% of boys and 7.1% of girls had carried a weapon in school premises during the past 30 days. [3] Aggression affects academic learning and emotional development, spoils schools' environment and, if not controlled early, may precipitate extreme incidents of violence in the future. [4] Data on aggressive behavior among school children in India, although scarce, indicates males to be more aggressive, [5] with the proportion of physical aggression being 45% in boys. [6] The present study was conducted in a rural area of West Bengal with the following objectives: (1) to determine the magnitude and types of aggressive behavior in school children and (2) to identify the influence of age and sex on aggressive behavior.


   Materials and Methods Top


Study design and setting

A cross-sectional study was conducted in Anandanagar High School in the field practice area of "Rural Health Unit and Training Centre, Singur", All India Institute of Hygiene and Public Health, Kolkata.

Study participants

Three hundred and thirty-eight children (161 boys and 177 girls) of classes VII to IX participated in the study.

Sample size estimation

Because no previous data were available, assuming the prevalence of aggression to be 50% (for maximum sample size at 6% absolute precision) at the 5% level of significance, the sample size was estimated to be 267. [7] However, while the study was being conducted, the students who were not being included in the sample objected on being left out; therefore, all the 338 children of classes VII to IX were included in the study.

Period of data collection

December 2009.

Definitions/measurement of aggressive behavior

Aggression was defined as "Any behavior intended to harm another person who is motivated to avoid the harm". [8],[9] The types of aggression were categorized as per Baron 1977 [8],[9] which were as follows:

  1. Physical-active-direct: Stabbing, punching or hitting.
  2. Physical-active-indirect: Setting a booby trap/hiring an assassin to hurt another person.
  3. Physical-passive-direct: Physically preventing another person from obtaining a desired goal or performing a desired act (as in a sit-in demonstration).
  4. Physical-passive-indirect: Refusing to perform necessary tasks (e.g., refusing to move during a sit-in).
  5. Verbal-active-direct: Insulting or derogating another person.
  6. Verbal-active-indirect: Spreading malicious rumors or gossip about another person.
  7. Verbal-passive-direct: Refusing to speak to another person, to answer questions.
  8. Verbal-passive-indirect: Failing to make specific verbal comments (e.g., failing to speak up in another person's defense when he or she is unfairly criticized).
Method of data collection

Students were asked to complete a pre-designed, anonymous, self-administered questionnaire indicating types of aggressive behavior by them in the previous month. Students were also asked to assess themselves with reference to statements indicating verbal/physical aggression as per the Buss and Perry aggression questionnaire. [10] Information on whether classes on anger control were held in the current year was also sought.

Tools for data collection

A self-administered questionnaire was designed in adaptation of the Buss and Perry aggression questionnaire [10] and direct and indirect aggression scales. [11] The questionnaire was translated into the local language.

Ethical considerations

One week prior to the data collection, a meeting was held with the school authorities. The problem of aggression in schools was discussed and the purpose of the study was explained. The students were administered the questionnaire after taking their consent.

Statistical tests

Z-test and Chi-square test for trend were applied.


   Results Top


Study participants

Three hundred and thirty-eight children (161 boys, 177 girls) of classes VII to IX in Anandanagar High School participated in the study. Fifty-two children were in class VII, 144 in class VIII and 142 in class IX. 95.6% of the mothers and 97.4% of the fathers of the children were literate. Ninety-five percent of the mothers were housewives and the rest were working. 41.5% of the fathers were involved in agriculture, 33.1% were in service, 18% were self-employed and the remaining 6.4% were laborers. 38.4% of the children came from nuclear families.

Physical aggression

Overall, 66.5% of the children were physically aggressive in the previous month: 75.8% of boys compared with 58.2% of girls (P0 = 0.001). Physical direct active aggression was more common among boys (57.1%) than among girls (22.0%) (P = 0.000 [7.79E -11 ]). Physical indirect active (P0 = 0.001), direct passive (P = 0.054) and indirect passive aggression ( P = 0.004) were also more common among boys than among girls [Table 1]. [Table 2] shows that the common type of physical direct aggression in boys was pushing (69.5%), followed by twisting (55.4%), while that in girls was pushing (58.9%), followed by slapping (51.2%).
Table 1: Physical aggression in students

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Table 2: Types of direct active physical aggression

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Verbal aggression

Overall, 56.8% of the children had been verbally aggressive in the previous month [Table 3]. Although any type of verbal aggression was higher in girls (61%) than in boys (55.2%) ( P = 0.97), direct active aggression was more common among boys (43.4%) than among girls (37.2%) ( P = 0.29). Verbal indirect and passive aggression was more common among girls than among boys, especially verbal indirect aggression, which was 55.3% among girls compared with 22.3% among boys ( P = 0.000 [1.17E -09 ]). [Table 4] shows that among the types of verbal direct aggression, abusing was common in boys (71.4%) and teasing in girls (71.2%).
Table 3: Verbal aggression in students

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Table 4: Types of verbal direct active aggression

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Self-assessment by the students

[Table 5] indicates that boys were more liable to acts of physical aggression than girls. It was found that 60.2% of the boys would hit on provocation compared with only 9% of girls ( P = 0.000 [6.6E -23 ]), 62.7% would hit back if hit (girls: 49%) ( P = 0.000 [3.4E -22 ]), 52.1% would resort to violence to protect rights (girls: 23.1) ( P = 0.000 [6.4E -8 ]), 20.4% could not control their urge to strike (girls: 7.3%) ( P = 0.001) and 32% would break things if angry (girls: 11.2%) ( P = 0.000 [5.4E -6 ]). Regarding attributes indicating verbal aggression, girls were found to be more liable to be to being argumentative (63.8% compared with 55.2% of boys) ( P = 0.134) and disagreeing (41.8% compared with 33.5% of boys) ( P = 0.145).
Table 5: Characteristic of students (self assessment) with reference to verbal aggression (buss perry aggression scale)

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Influence of age (class)

[Table 6] shows that physical direct active aggression decreased substantially from 50% in class VII to 25.3% in class IX (trend χ2 = 18.61, P = 0.00009101), while verbal direct active aggression increased from 40.3% in class VII to 41.7% in class VII and then decreased to 38.7% in class IX (trend: χ2 = 0.26, P = 0.8796). Physical indirect passive aggression increased from 9.6% in class VII to 14.1% in class IX (trend: χ2 = 1.995, P = 0.3687) and verbal indirect passive aggression increased from 26.9% in class VII to 47.1% in class IX (trend χ2 = 7.37, P = 0.0250).
Table 6: Aggressive behavior according to class

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Classes on anger/aggression control/management

No classes had been taken on anger control/management by the school authorities in the current year as indicated by the students.


   Discussion Top


In our study, 66.5% of the children (75.8% boys, 58.2% girls) were physically aggressive and 56.8% were verbally aggressive (girls 61%, boys 55.2%) in the previous month. With increasing age/class, there was a statistically significant decrease in physical direct active aggression, while verbal direct active aggression remained much the same. Physical and verbal indirect passive aggression increased with age/class, although the increase was not statistically significant. Our findings are in agreement with the thinking of Bjφrkqet et al., [12],[13] that aggressive behavior tends to appear in the order of: (1) direct physical, (2) direct verbal, and (3) indirect and passive aggression. Young children, who lack verbal skills and skills for manipulation, have to resort to gross physical direct active aggressive techniques such as hitting, kicking, biting or pushing. As age increases, verbal ability develops and verbal threats, shouting and other forms of direct verbal active aggression are added. However, these aggressive behaviors are obvious and liable to punishment and may also lead to injuries. With development of social intelligence and skills, manipulative behavior in terms of indirect and passive aggression appears where the aggression is camouflaged and less risky. Because social intelligence develops earlier in girls, indirect aggression is likely to appear earlier among them. Also, due to other reasons such as relative physical weakness, females are likely to be socialized into a preference for indirect rather than direct forms of aggression. In our study, girls were found to resort to more of verbal aggression and indirect and passive aggression than boys. Bjφrkq et al., [12] suggested that sex differences in indirect aggression are distinguishable at about the age of 11 years. In a study conducted in Uttar Pradesh, India, [6] the proportion of physical aggression among boys, from the age of 8 years to the age of 11 years, decreased from 45% to 35%, while verbal aggression increased from 30% to 34% and indirect aggression increased from 25% to 31%. In the same study, from the age of 8 years to the age of 11 years for girls, the proportion of physical aggression decreased from 38% and 31%, verbal aggression increased from 32% to 34% and indirect aggression increased from 30% to 35%. Most studies in India have found males to be more aggressive than females [5],[14] Iqbal et al., [15] have reported adolescent girls to express more anger than boys. Similar findings in the age and sex differentials of aggression have been reported in other studies as well. [12],[13]

No classes had been taken for the students on anger control/management by the school authorities in the current year. Various interventions. [16],[17] have been tried to reduce and prevent the development of aggression in young children. These include: (A) child-focused interventions designed to directly enhance children's social, emotional and cognitive competence by teaching appropriate social skills, effective problem solving, anger management and emotional language and (B) training teachers to implement effective classroom management that helps in venting emotions so that they can reduce aggression in the classroom. These interventions are recommended.


   Conclusions Top


Aggressive behavior was common among both boys and girls, starting as direct physical aggression (more among boys) and gradually changing to more of verbal and then to indirect and passive aggression (starting earlier in girls). Research needs to be carried out on the factors associated with aggressive behavior and the reasons for aggression. Life skills education, counseling and classroom management strategies are advocated to channelize aggressive behaviors to healthier expressions of assertive and constructive behaviors.


   Acknowledgments Top


We gratefuly acknowledge the co-operation of the head master, teachers and students of Anandanagar High school, post-graduate students of All India Institute of Hygiene and Public Health Kolkata and Health workers of Rural Health Unit and Training Centre, Singur in conducting the study. We are grateful to Dr. D. Nag. Ex-Head, Department of English and Ex-Principal of Sri Shkshayatan College, Kolkata for her valuable comments and suggestions.

 
   References Top

1.Tiwari B. Aggression in children. A rising trend: News Track India, 12 Feb. 2008. Available from: http://www.newstrackindia.com/newsdetails/2380. [Last accessed on 2011 Aug 29].  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.Dinkes R, Kemp J, Baum K. Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2008 (NCES 2009-022/NCJ 226343). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, and Bureau of Justice Statistics, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice; 2009. Available from: http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/iscs08.pdf. [Last accessed on 2011 Aug 29].  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance-United States, 2007 Surveillance Summaries, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) (SS-4) 2008;57.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.White JL, Moffitt TE, Earls F, Robins L, Silva PA. How early can we tell? Predictors of childhood conduct disorder and adolescent delinquency. Criminol 1990;28:507-33.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.Biswas PC. Direction of aggression of school going adolescents as related to family tension, area of residence and sex: A comparative study. Manas 1989;36:1-9.  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.Björkqvist K, Österman K, Oomen TK, Lagerspetz KM. Physical, verbal and indirect aggression among Hindus, Muslims and Sikh adolescents in India. In: Martinez M, editor. Prevention and control of aggression and the impact on its victims. Kluwer CA: Academic Publisher; 2001. p. 126-37.  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.Lawanga SK, Lemeshow S. Sample size determination in health studies. A Practical Manual. Geneva: WHO; 1991.  Back to cited text no. 7
    
8.Baron RA. Human Aggression. New York: Plenum Press; 1977.  Back to cited text no. 8
    
9.Morgan T, King AR, Weisz JR, Schopler J. Introduction to Psychology, 7 th ed. New Delhi: Tata McGraw Hill; 2004.  Back to cited text no. 9
    
10.Buss AH, Perry M. The aggression questionnaire. J Pers Soc Psychol 1992;63:452-9.  Back to cited text no. 10
    
11.Björkqvist K, Lagerspetz KM, Österman K. The direct and indirect aggression scales (DIAS). Finland: Åbo Akademi University, Department of Social Sciences; 1992.  Back to cited text no. 11
    
12.Björkqvist K, Lagerspetz KM, Kaukiainen A. Do girls manipulate and boys fight? Developmental trends regarding direct and indirect aggression. Aggress Behav 1992;18:117-27.  Back to cited text no. 12
    
13.Björkqvist K, Lagerspetz KM, Österman K, Kaukiainen A. Styles of aggression and sex differences: A developmental theory. Aggress Behav 1993;19:11-2.  Back to cited text no. 13
    
14.Khatri P, Kupersmidt JB. Aggression, peer victimization, and social relationships among Indian youth. Int J Behav Dev 2003;27:87-95.  Back to cited text no. 14
    
15.Iqbal N, Ahmad H, Shukla SR, Akhtar A. A study on family system in relation to anger among male and female students. Indian J Clin Psychol 1993;20:73-7.  Back to cited text no. 15
    
16.Bullis M, Walker HM. Comprehensive school-based systems for troubled youth. Eugene: University of Oregon, Center on Human Development; 1994.  Back to cited text no. 16
    
17.Webster-Stratton C, Hammond M. Treating children with early-onset conduct problems: A comparison of child and parent training interventions. J Consult Clin Psychol 1997;65:93-109.  Back to cited text no. 17
    



 
 
    Tables

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4], [Table 5], [Table 6]



 

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    Materials and Me...
   Results
   Discussion
   Conclusions
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