In the Western World there is the widespread belief that force must not be used against children. This is contrary to the old adage "Spare the Rod and Spoil the Child". Parents in England who want their kids not become gangsters are now sending them to schools which offer discipline, in Africa (African Cane Tames Unruly British Pupils, Sunday Times, 11/4/07). Instead of becoming violent as a result of being struck with a cane which many in the West who believe in modern psychobabble believe would happen, they become well behaved and respectful.
One of the problems parents face bringing up their child is that they are not the only influence on the child and they can't be around the child 24 hours a day to protect him from bad experiences he may encounter in the outside world. When I was growing up I was exposed to kids with a bad set of values and being a naive kid thought that maybe what they thought was cool, was cool. Being bad was considered good. In fact I remember the phrase "he's bad" as meaning "he's good" but good according to their warped value system. What I did absorb of this warped value system interfered with my ability to understand people and how to relate to them when I was an adult. My peers successfully attacked my self esteem and that too adversely affected me in adulthood. Eventually I improved my understanding of people and my self esteem but suffered many wasted unhappy lonely years long after having any contact with the peers of my youth.
Dan Olweus in a book called Bullying At School wrote about child rearing practices that create bullies. He wrote:
Very briefly, four factors have been found to be particularly important (based chiefly on research with boys;... First, the basic emotional attitude of the parents, mainly that of the primary caretaker (usually the mother), toward the boy is very important, maybe in particular the emotional attitude during his earlier years. A negative basic attitude, characterized by lack of warmth and involvement, clearly increases the risk that the boy will later become aggressive and hostile toward others.
A second important factor is the extent to which the primary caretaker has been permissive and allowed aggressive behavior on the part of the child. If the caretaker is generally permissive and "tolerant" without setting clear limits to aggressive behavior toward peers, siblings, and adults, the child's level of aggression is likely to increase.
We can summarize these results by stating that too little love and too much "freedom" in childhood are conditions that strongly contribute to the development of an aggressive reaction pattern.
A third factor that has been found to raise the child's level of aggression is the parents' use of "power-assertive" child rearing methods such as physical punishment and violent emotional outbursts. This finding supports the notion that "violence begets violence." It is important to set clear limits to and impose certain rules on a child's behavior, but it should not be done with the use of physical punishment and the like.
Finally the temperament of the child also plays a part...
Dr. Olweus also mentioned the effect of TV and movie violence in his book. He wrote:
Extensive international research indicates that children and teenagers who view a lot of violence on TV, video, and movies often become more aggressive and have less empathy with victims of aggression. (Pearl et al Televison and behavior, Vol 2 U.S. Govt Printing Office 1982; Eron & Huesmann The role of television in the Development of prosocial and antisocial behavior in D. Olweus, Development of antisocial and prosocial behavior New York Academic Press 1986)...
Clearly one would expect the violence in rap music and video games to also create bullies. Some parents when confronted with complaints about their children being bullies just see it as boys being boys and don't want to bother doing anything about it. The problem with that is that victims of bullies suffer considerably, sometimes to the point of suicide and also that statistics show that bullies are much more likely to grow up to be criminals.
The popularity web page of this web site discusses why certain children are bullied and what they can do about it.
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