Associations between Aggression, Parenting Styles, and Symptomol

From the article chosen to review, this particular study takes a look into the impact of parenting styles, aggression, and externalizing symptomology and the relation between the children whom are admitted into a psychiatric inpatient unit. The purpose of the study was to further evaluate the links between childhood proactive and reactive physical aggression, and externalizing symptoms within an inpatient population. Also, the study took a further look into risk factors such as parenting styles, child’s gender, and also the age of the child. The studies were conducted amongst children who were admitted into a psychiatric inpatient unit at a young age. Children make up 35% of mental health care expenditures in the US, and the child impatient care costs are a 3.9-billion-dollar industry. Because of the growing population, studies were conducted to find out pre—cursors and risk factors to try to potentially assist in prevention and intervention programs in order to prevent admission into a psychiatric unit.

It is found that childhood aggression often precedes more serious, diagnosable, externalizing symptomology (e.g. Conner et al. 2004).A few studies, Previous studies conducted on the relation between proactive and reactive functions of aggression and more sever externalizing symptomology.

The process of the method included 392 participants (The independent variables) in which whom were school aged children. The criteria for the children also had to be that the school-aged children were admitted to a psychiatric impatient facility on a consecutive basis. This study could not include children who were placed in DCF (Department of human services care), children of whom do not live with primary caregivers within the last twelve month, and children who received a diagnosis with a known developmental delay such as autism, or psychosis, and children whom were from non-English speaking families.

The individuals (children) in the study are aged ranging from six to twelve years. (with the median age being 9.4 and a standard deviation of 1.9). The majority of the children from the conducted sample study were males (71.4%). The majority racial makeup of most of the children within the sample were 60.7% African American and 39.35 Caucasian. The informants in the study were primarily mothers (69%), and only 7% were fathers. A small percentage of informants for the sample included both parents (3%), another relative (10%), and another person whom identified as the permanent guardian of the child (11%). The length of the stay of the child in the impatient unit had to be a minimum of 3 days to a maximum of 21 days. The study found that 95% of participants received insurance from Medicaid.

The procedure portion of the study required parents to provide consent for their child’s information to be used for research purposes in order for the study to be conducted. This written consent was given upon the admission of the child entering into the psychiatric impatient unit. When the children were initially admitted for treatment, was when families completed a standard battery of questionnaires and a clinical interview.

The demographic information which was considered in this sample study were information about the children which included the child’s age, gender, and race or ethnicity. Now, taking a look into typed of aggression that were reviewed, there was a study conducted on proactive and reactive physical aggression. Proactive aggression is when someone initiates aggressive behavior towards another individual that he or she may not like. Reactive aggression is a child reacting to a threat or a teasing and the are angry about it and strikes back. These forms of aggression were studied based on a caregiver report from an aggression questionnaire from 1987 by Dodge and Coie. The questionnaire consists of six items, of which three are based on proactive aggression and the other three based on reactive. The children were assessed by caregivers on a 5-point scale of 1 to 5 in the study with 1 indicating never and 5 indicating almost always.

The next risk factor that was looked at were the parenting style. There were three styles of parenting which were assessed. The styles were authoritarian, authoritative, and permissive parenting styles. The caregivers took an assessment which consisted of 10 items per parenting style totaling 30 items for the assessment. The caregivers were to respond on a 5-point scale with 1 indicating strongly disagree and 5 indicating a strongly agree. The results of this assessment show that authoritarian parenting style was most common, the second being authoritative, with permissive style being the least used.

An additional risk factor which was looked at was disruptive behaviors disorder symptoms. The child’s behavior was examined for disruptive behavior (based on what the child’s caregiver reported). The assessment was a Child Behavior Checklist, which is a 113-item assessment which askes caregivers to assess their child on a 3-point scale from 0 to 2 with 0 indicating “not true” and 2 indicating “very true/very often”. This assessment checks for DSM (diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders) oriented subscales consisting of items that are directly related to the symptomology, such as oppositional defiant problems and conduct problems.

The last risk factor studied in the sample was the internalizing symptoms. Internalizing symptoms was also evaluated utilizing the child behavior checklist. This assessment took a further look into Affective problems and Anxiety Problems. These items were perceived by clinicians, as being key factors. Clinicians found that affective problems and anxiety problems to be consistent with diagnostic conceptualizations of childhood anxiety and depressive disorder. Clinicians determined that within this sample that it provided low adequate internal consistencies.

The conclusion of the study was that the hypothesis that proactive aggression would be more strongly associated with externalizing symptomology that reactive aggression was not supported in this particular sample study. It seems as though proactive and reactive aggression are both associated with ODD and CD, so there was no specific correlation between either type of aggression. Parenting styles such as authoritarian and authoritative, were in fact most relevant to proactive aggression and ODD symptoms. Reactive aggression was found to be related to both OOD and CD symptoms. The parenting styles also seemed to be a factor

So it seemed that both proactive and reactive functions of aggression are associated with both ODD and CD symptoms. Parenting on the other hand turned out to be the most important association between proactive aggression and ODD symptoms for females and older youth specifically. 

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