Tag Archives: Study says

Penn State study: Ethnic students and students of color underrepresented in special education classes

24 Jun

The University of Michigan Health System has a great guide, Learning Disabilities:

What are learning disabilities (LD)? 

If your child is not doing as well in school as they have the potential to, they may have a learning disability. Having a learning disability means having a normal intelligence but a problem in one or more areas of learning.

A learning disability is a neurobiological disorder; people with LD have brains that learn differently because of differences in brain structure and/or function.  If a person learns differently due to visual, hearing or physical handicaps, mental retardation, emotional disturbance, or environmental, cultural or economic disadvantage, we do not call it a learning disability.

Some people with LD also have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder orADHD.

LDs can affect many different areas:

  • Spoken language—problems in listening and speaking
  • Reading—difficulties decoding or recognizing words or understanding them
  • Written language—problems with writing, spelling, organizing ideas
  • Math—trouble doing arithmetic or understanding basic concepts
  • Reasoning—problems organizing and putting together thoughts
  • Memory—problems remembering facts and instructions
  • Social behavior—difficulties with social judgment, tolerating frustration and making friends
  • Physical coordination—problems with handwriting, manipulating small objects, running and jumping
  • Organization—trouble with managing time and belongings, carrying out a plan
  • Metacognition (thinking about thinking)—problems with knowing, using and monitoring the use of thinking and learning strategies, and learning from mistakes

Why is early diagnosis and treatment so important?

When LDs are not found and treated early on, they tend to snowball.  As kids get more and more behind in school, they may become more and more frustrated, feeling like a failure. Often, self-esteem problems lead to bad behavior and other problems.  High school dropout rates are much higher for students with LDs than for those without [1].   These educational differences, in turn, affect the job and earnings prospects for people with LDs.  When LD is not noticed or not treated, it can cause adult literacy problems.   By identifying LDs early, your child will get the help they need to reach their potential.

How common are learning disabilities?

Educators estimate that between 5 and 10 percent of kids between ages 6 and 17 have learning disabilities [2]. More than half of the kids receiving special education in the United States have LDs [3]Dyslexia is the most common LD; 80 percent of students with LDs have dyslexia [4].

What causes learning disabilities? 

Because there are lots of kinds of learning disabilities, it is hard to diagnose them and pinpoint the causes. LDs seem to be caused by the brain, but the exact causes are not known. Some risk factors are:


         Low birth weight, prematurity, birth trauma or distress

         Stress before or after birth

         Treatment for cancer or leukemia

         Central nervous system infections

         Severe head injuries

          Chronic medical illnesses, like diabetes or asthma

          Poor nutrition

 LDs are not caused by environmental factors, like cultural differences, or bad teaching.

When your child is diagnosed with a LD, the most important thing is not to look back and try to figure out if something went wrong. Instead, think about moving forward and finding help .http://www.med.umich.edu/yourchild/topics/ld.htm

Once a learning disability has been diagnosed there are steps parents can take to advocate for their child. Scholastic has great advice for parents in the article, Falling Behind With a Learning Disability.http://www.scholastic.com/resources/article/learning-disability/

Schools often test children to determine whether a child has a learning disability. Often parents may want to have an independent evaluation for their child. https://drwilda.com/2012/09/02/survey-most-people-dont-know-what-a-learning-disability-is/

Joy Resmovits reported in the Huffington Post article, More Minority Students Should Be In Special Ed, Study Says:

study released Wednesday, led by Penn State education professor Paul Morgan, suggests that’s the case. Schools have been identifying too few minority students for placement in special education, he claims — in some cases, by a margin as large as 60 percent.

According to a U.S. Education Department study, in fall 2012, 1.08 million black students and 1.24 million Hispanic students ages 6 to 21 were receiving special education services. Of the 5.7 million total special education students, black students comprised 19 percent and Hispanic students 21.8 percent. That same year, 11.3 percent of black students and 8.2 percent of Hispanic students were placed in special education, compared with 8.2 percent of white students.

Morgan bases his conclusion on the assertion that civil rights activists and educators who say too many minority students are in special education have been relying on simple comparisons.

“If general school age population is 14 percent black, you would expect 14 percent of students who are black would be represented in special education,” Morgan said. “But 19 percent of the special ed population is black. That’s been taken as a disparity.”

This reported disparity led the federal government to mandate monitoring of the percentages of minority students placed in special education. School districts found exceeding expected percentages “due to inappropriate identification” are required to allocate 15 percent of a specific funding stream to reducing that number through early intervention, a program to help kids when they’re younger, instead of putting them in separate educational programs for their entire academic lives.

“Children who are minorities are more likely to be exposed to the risk factors that contribute to having a disability: more likely to be exposed to lead, born into poverty, fetal alcohol syndrome,” Morgan said. “You have to take that into account in terms of understanding who is under- or over-represented in special education. Research has not done that — it has relied on simple unadjusted contrasts….”                                             http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/06/24/special-education-minorities_n_7649330.html

See, Minority students are underrepresented in special education        http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/06/150624100331.htm


Minority students are underrepresented in special education

Date:               June 24, 2015

Source:           American Educational Research Association (AERA)


A new federally funded study finds that racial, ethnic, and language minority elementary- and middle-school students are less likely than otherwise similar white, English-speaking children to be identified as having disabilities and, as a result, are disproportionately underrepresented in special education. These findings differ from most prior education research and contrast with current federal legislation and policies.

Journal Reference:

  1. L. Morgan, G. Farkas, M. M. Hillemeier, R. Mattison, S. Maczuga, H. Li, M. Cook. Minorities Are Disproportionately Underrepresented in Special Education: Longitudinal Evidence Across Five Disability ConditionsEducational Researcher, 2015; DOI:10.3102/0013189X15591157

Here is the press release from the American Educational Research Association:

For Immediate Release:
June 24, 2015

Tony Pals, tpals@aera.net
office: (202) 238-3235
cell: (202) 288-9333
Bridget Jameson, bjameson@aera.net
office: (202) 238-3233

Study Finds Minority Students Are Underrepresented in Special Education
Finding Conflicts with Current Federal Legislation and Policy

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 24, 2015—A new federally funded study finds that racial, ethnic, and language minority elementary- and middle-school students are less likely than otherwise similar white, English-speaking children to be identified as having disabilities and, as a result, are disproportionately underrepresented in special education. These findings differ from most prior education research and contrast with current federal legislation and policies. The study was published online today in Educational Researcher, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Educational Research Association.

Authors Paul L. Morgan of the Pennsylvania State University, George Farkas of University of California, Irvine, and Marianne M. Hillemeier, Richard Mattison, Steve Maczuga, Hui Li, and Michael Cook, all of the Pennsylvania State University, found that racial and ethnic minority children are less likely than otherwise similar white, English-speaking children to be identified as disabled across all five of the surveyed disability conditions—learning disabilities, speech or language impairments, intellectual disabilities, other health impairments, or emotional disturbances—and, so, are less likely to receive potentially beneficial special education services. Language minority children are less likely than otherwise similar children from English-speaking homes to be identified as having learning disabilities or speech or language impairments.

Long-standing and ongoing federal legislation and policymaking has attempted to reduce what has been repeatedly reported to be minority overrepresentation in special education. The U.S. Department of Education is currently considering issuing further compliance monitoring guidelines regarding minority overrepresentation.

“Our findings indicate that federal legislation and policies currently designed to reduce minority over-representation in special education may be misdirected,” said Morgan. “These well-intentioned policies instead may be exacerbating the nation’s education inequities by limiting minority children’s access to potentially beneficial special education and related services to which they may be legally entitled.”

The authors analyzed multiyear longitudinal and nationally representative data from the U.S. Department of Education. The analyses extensively controlled for child-, family-, and state-level variables. These included children’s own academic achievement and behavior, whether they were born with low birth weight, family socioeconomic status and access to health insurance, and their state of residence, among other factors.

“Prior studies have mostly looked at simple, unadjusted comparisons between the general population and the special education population, or differences among minority and non-minority students with controls only at the district or school level,” said Morgan. “Yet these studies have often not accounted for minority children’s greater exposure to factors that increase the risk for disabling conditions. In contrast, our study corrects at the child- and family-levels for minority children’s greater exposure to these risk factors, including the strong predictors of academic achievement or behavior for a school-based disability diagnosis.”

The study’s findings indicated that the underrepresentation of minority children was evident throughout elementary and middle school.

Additional results include:

  • African American children have odds of learning disability identification that are 58 percent lower than those of otherwise similar white children. African American children’s odds of identification for speech or language impairments, intellectual disabilities, health impairments, and emotional disturbances are, respectively, 63 percent, 57 percent, 77 percent, and 64 percent lower than otherwise similar white children.
  • Hispanic children have odds of learning disability, speech or language impairments, or other health impairments that are, respectively, 29 percent, 33 percent, and 73 percent lower than otherwise similar white children.
  • Children from non-English-speaking households have odds of learning disabilities as well as speech or language impairment identification that are, respectively, 28 percent and 40 percent lower than otherwise similar children from English-speaking households.
  • Children from families without health insurance are less likely to be identified as having speech or language impairments.
  • Children from families with lower levels of education and income are less likely to be identified as having other health impairments.

“This underrepresentation may result from teachers, school psychologists, and other education professionals responding differently to white, English-speaking children and their parents,” said Morgan. “Education professionals should be attentive to cultural and language barriers that may keep minority children with disabilities from being appropriately identified and treated.”

“Untreated disabilities increase children’s risk for many adversities, including persistent academic and behavioral difficulties in school,” Morgan said. “As a matter of social justice, we should work to ensure that all children with disabilities, regardless of their race, ethnicity, or language use, receive the care they need.”

Funding Note
Funding for this study was provided by the National Center for Special Education Research, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Infrastructure support was provided by Penn State’s Population Research Institute through funding from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health.

About AERA
The American Educational Research Association (AERA) is the largest national professional organization devoted to the scientific study of education. Founded in 1916, AERA advances knowledge about education, encourages scholarly inquiry related to education, and promotes the use of research to improve education and serve the public good. Find AERA on Facebook and Twitter.


All Children Have A Right to A Good Basic Education.


Early warning signs of a learning disability


How to know if your child has a learning disability


If You Suspect a Child Has a Learning Disability


Learning Disabilities in Children


Learning Disabilities (LD)


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King’s College London study: childhood drawings indicate later intelligence

21 Aug

Many children begin their first day of school behind their more advantaged peers. Early childhood learning is an important tool is bridging the education deficit. https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/01/03/early-learning-standards-and-the-k-12-contiuum/
Rebecca Klein of Huffington posted in the article, This Is What Could Close The Achievement Gap Among Young Kids, Study Says:

Just a few years of high-quality early childhood education could close the academic achievement gap between low-income and affluent students, a new study suggests.
The study, conducted by two university professors, analyzed previous data from a now-defunct program that offered free preschool to students from different social backgrounds.
Using this data, the researchers found that after providing low-income children with quality preschool early in life, the kids had the same IQs as their wealthier peers by age… http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/07/preschool-achievement-gap_n_4556916.html

A King’s College study is intriguing because it points to the value of early cognitive stimulation

Science Daily reported in the article, Children’s drawings indicate later intelligence, study shows:

At the age of 4, children were asked by their parents to complete a ‘Draw-a-Child’ test, i.e. draw a picture of a child. Each figure was scored between 0 and 12 depending on the presence and correct quantity of features such as head, eyes, nose, mouth, ears, hair, body, arms etc. For example, a drawing with two legs, two arms, a body and head, but no facial features, would score 4. The children were also given verbal and non-verbal intelligence tests at ages 4 and 14.
The researchers found that higher scores on the Draw-a-Child test were moderately associated with higher scores of intelligence at ages 4 and 14. The correlation between drawing and intelligence was moderate at ages 4 (0.33) and 14 (0.20).
Dr Rosalind Arden, lead author of the paper from the MRC Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry (SGDP) Centre at the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London, says: “The Draw-a-Child test was devised in the 1920’s to assess children’s intelligence, so the fact that the test correlated with intelligence at age 4 was expected.What surprised us was that it correlated with intelligence a decade later.”
“The correlation is moderate, so our findings are interesting, but it does not mean that parents should worry if their child draws badly. Drawing ability does not determine intelligence, there are countless factors, both genetic and environmental, which affect intelligence in later life….”


Children’s drawings indicate later intelligence, study shows
Date: August 18, 2014
Source: King’s College London
How 4-year-old children draw pictures of a child is an indicator of intelligence at age 14, according to a new study. The researchers studied 7,752 pairs of identical and non-identical twins and found that the link between drawing and later intelligence was influenced by genes.
Genes Influence Young Children’s Human Figure Drawings and Their Association With Intelligence a Decade Later
1. Rosalind Arden1
2. Maciej Trzaskowski1
3. Victoria Garfield2
4. Robert Plomin1
1. 1MRC Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London
2. 2Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London
1. Rosalind Arden, MRC Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London, PO80, De Crespigny Park, London, United Kingdom SE5 8AF E-mail: rosalind.arden@kcl.ac.uk
1. Author Contributions R. Arden and M. Trzaskowski would like to be considered as joint first authors. R. Arden developed the study concept. R. Arden, M. Trzaskowski, and R. Plomin contributed to the study design. R. Arden and M. Trzaskowski performed the data analyses. R. Arden drafted the manuscript, and all authors provided critical revisions. All authors approved the final version of the manuscript for submission.
Drawing is ancient; it is the only childhood cognitive behavior for which there is any direct evidence from the Upper Paleolithic. Do genes influence individual differences in this species-typical behavior, and is drawing related to intelligence (g) in modern children? We report on the first genetically informative study of children’s figure drawing. In a study of 7,752 pairs of twins, we found that genetic differences exert a greater influence on children’s figure drawing at age 4 than do between-family environmental differences. Figure drawing was as heritable as g at age 4 (heritability of .29 for both). Drawing scores at age 4 correlated significantly with g at age 4 (r = .33, p < .001, n = 14,050) and with g at age 14 (r = .20, p < .001, n = 4,622). The genetic correlation between drawing at age 4 and g at age 14 was .52, 95% confidence interval = [.31, .75]. Individual differences in this widespread behavior have an important genetic component and a significant genetic link with g.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License (Creative Commons — Attribution 3.0 Unported — CC BY 3.0) which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access page (http://www.uk.sagepub.com/aboutus/openaccess.htm).

Here is the press release from King’s College:

Home | Institute of Psychiatry | News and events | News Stories | Children’s drawings indicate later intelligence
Children’s drawings indicate later intelligence
Posted on 19/08/2014
How 4-year old children draw pictures of a child is an indicator of intelligence at age 14, according to a study by the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London, published today in Psychological Science.
The researchers studied 7,752 pairs of identical and non-identical twins (a total of 15,504 children) from the Medical Research Council (MRC) funded Twins Early Development Study (TEDS), and found that the link between drawing and later intelligence was influenced by genes.
At the age of 4, children were asked by their parents to complete a ‘Draw-a-Child’ test, i.e. draw a picture of a child. Each figure was scored between 0 and 12 depending on the presence and correct quantity of features such as head, eyes, nose, mouth, ears, hair, body, arms etc. For example, a drawing with two legs, two arms, a body and head, but no facial features, would score 4. The children were also given verbal and non-verbal intelligence tests at ages 4 and 14.
The researchers found that higher scores on the Draw-a-Child test were moderately associated with higher scores of intelligence at ages 4 and 14. The correlation between drawing and intelligence was moderate at ages 4 (0.33) and 14 (0.20).
Dr Rosalind Arden, lead author of the paper from the MRC Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry (SGDP) Centre at the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London, says: “The Draw-a-Child test was devised in the 1920’s to assess children’s intelligence, so the fact that the test correlated with intelligence at age 4 was expected. What surprised us was that it correlated with intelligence a decade later.”
“The correlation is moderate, so our findings are interesting, but it does not mean that parents should worry if their child draws badly. Drawing ability does not determine intelligence, there are countless factors, both genetic and environmental, which affect intelligence in later life.”
The researchers also measured the heritability of figure drawing. Identical twins share all their genes, whereas non-identical twins only share about 50 percent, but each pair will have a similar upbringing, family environment and access to the same materials.
Overall, at age 4, drawings from identical twins pairs were more similar to one another than drawings from non-identical twin pairs. Therefore, the researchers concluded that differences in children’s drawings have an important genetic link. They also found that drawing at age 4 and intelligence at age 14 had a strong genetic link.
Dr Arden explains: “This does not mean that there is a drawing gene – a child’s ability to draw stems from many other abilities, such as observing, holding a pencil etc. We are a long way off understanding how genes influence all these different types of behaviour.”
Dr Arden adds: “Drawing is an ancient behaviour, dating back beyond 15,000 years ago. Through drawing, we are attempting to show someone else what’s in our mind. This capacity to reproduce figures is a uniquely human ability and a sign of cognitive ability, in a similar way to writing, which transformed the human species’ ability to store information, and build a civilisation.”
Paper reference: Arden, R. et al. ‘Genes influence young children’s human figure drawings, and their association with intelligence a decade later’ published in Psychological Science doi:10.1177/0956797614540686
For further information, please contact Seil Collins, Press Officer, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London seil.collins@kcl.ac.uk / (+44) 0207 848 5377

Teachers and schools have been made TOTALLY responsible for the education outcome of the children, many of whom come to school not ready to learn and who reside in families that for a variety of reasons cannot support their education. All children are capable of learning, but a one-size-fits-all approach does not serve all children well. Different populations of children will require different strategies and some children will require remedial help, early intervention, and family support to achieve their education goals. https://drwilda.com/2012/02/11/3rd-world-america-money-changes-everything/

ALL children have a right to a good basic education.

The Global Creativity Index http://www.theatlanticcities.com/jobs-and-economy/2011/10/global-creativity-index/229/

The Rise of the Creative Class

Where information leads to Hope. © Dr. Wilda.com

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Study: Consumption of soft drinks may be linked to aggression in children

17 Aug

Melissa Pandika wrote in the Los Angeles Times article, Soda linked to behavioral problems in young children, study says:

Soda has already been blamed for making kids obese. New research blames the sugary drinks for behavioral problems in children too.
Analyzing data from 2,929 families, researchers linked soda consumption to aggression, attention problems and social withdrawal in 5-year-olds. They published their findings in the Journal of Pediatrics on Friday.
Although earlier studies have shown an association between soft-drink consumption and aggression in teens, none had investigated whether a similar relationship existed in younger children.
To that end, Columbia University epidemiologist Shakira Suglia and her colleagues examined data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, which followed 2,929 mother-child pairs in 20 large U.S. cities from the time the children were born. The study, run by Columbia and Princeton University, collected information through surveys the mothers completed periodically over several years.
In one survey, mothers answered questions about behavior problems in their children. They also reported how much soda their kids drank on a typical day.
Suglia and her colleagues found that even at the young age of 5, 43% of the kids consumed at least one serving of soda per day, and 4% drank four servings or more.
The more soda kids drank, the more likely their mothers were to report that the kids had problems with aggression, withdrawal and staying focused on a task. For instance, children who downed four or more servings of soda per day were more than twice as likely to destroy others’ belongings, get into fights and physically attack people, compared with kids who didn’t drink soda at all.
Even after adjusting for the potential influence of socioeconomic factors, maternal depression, intimate partner violence and other environmental variables, the researchers still saw a strong association between soda consumption and behavior. “That was pretty striking to us,” Suglia said.http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-soda-aggression-behavioral-problems-children-20130816,0,3247341.story


Soft Drinks Consumption Is Associated with Behavior Problems in 5-Year-Olds
Shakira F. Suglia, ScD1, Sara Solnick, PhD2, and David Hemenway, PhD3
To examine soda consumption and aggressive behaviors, attention problems, and withdrawal behavior among 5-year-old children.
Study design
The Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study is a prospective birth cohort study that follows a sample of mother-child pairs from 20 large US cities. Mothers reported children’s behaviors using the Child Behavior Checklist at age 5 years and were asked to report how many servings of soda the child drinks on a typical day.
Results In the sample of 2929 children, 52% were boys, 51% were African-American, 43% consumed at least one serving of soda per day, and 4% consumed 4 or more servings per day. In analyses adjusted for sociodemographic factors, consuming one (beta, 0.7; 95% CI, 0.1-1.4), 2 (beta, 1.8; 95% CI, 0.8-2.7), 3 (beta, 2.0; 95% CI, 0.6-3.4), or 4 or more (beta, 4.7; 95% CI, 3.2-6.2) servings was associated with a higher aggressive behavior score compared with consuming no soda. Furthermore, those who consumed 4 or more (beta, 1.7; 95% CI, 1.0-2.4) soda servings had higher scores on the attention problems subscale. Higher withdrawn behavior scores were noted among those consuming 2 (beta, 1.0; 95% CI, 0.3-1.8) or 4 or more (beta, 2.0; 95% CI, 0.8-3.1) soda servings compared with those who consumed no soda.
Wenote an association between soda consumption and negative behavioramong very young children; future studies should explore potential mechanisms that could explain this association. (J Pediatr 2013;-:—).
Americans buy more soda per capita than people in any other country worldwide.1 Even very young children consume soft drinks. For example, national surveys of US children aged 4-5 years fromthe mid-1990s found that, on average, they consumed 11 g of added sugar per day from regular (ie, nondiet) soft drinks alone, which corresponds to 25% of a 12-oz can.2 In California, a 2005 survey found that more than 40% of children aged 2-11 years drank at least 1 serving of soda per day.3
Among adolescents, consuming soft drinks is associated with aggression,4,5 as well as with depression and suicidal thoughts, and withdrawal behavior (Hemenway et al, unpublished data, 2013).5-7 Previous studies using data from national high school surveys found a dose-response relationship between the amount of soft drinks consumed and both self-harm and aggression toward others. Despite the fact that young children also are consuming soft drinks, the relationship between soda consumption and behavior has not been evaluated in this age group.
Numerous factors may affect both soda consumption and problem behavior in children. Poor dietary choices, such as high soda consumption, in young children may be associated with other parenting practices, such as excessive television (TV) viewing and high consumption of other sweets. Furthermore, parenting practices may be associated with social factors known to be associated with child behavior. The relationship between a stressful home environment and child behavior is well known; for example, children who are victims of violent acts or who witness violence have been found to have more externalizing and internalizing behavior problems and more aggression problems, and to show signs of posttraumatic stress disorder.8-10 Moreover, caretaker mental health can be a strong contributor to problems in children through its effects on parenting quality and overall home environment.11 Children of depressed mothers have been shown to develop more social and emotional problems during childhood, including internalizing and externalizing problems.12 Thus, it is possible that observed associations between behavior and soda consumption in adolescents can be attributed to unadjusted social risk factors.
In the present study, we investigated the effect of soda consumption on behavior,
specifically aggression, attention, and withdrawal behaviors, in a sample of almost 3000 5-year-old children from urban areas across the US. Considering that other dietary factors may be associated with both soda consumption and behavior, we adjusted our analyses for other dietary components as well as for social risk factors that may be associated with parenting practices as well as child behavior.
From the
1Department of Epidemiology, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, NY;
2Department of Economics, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT; and 3Department of Health Policy and Management, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA
The Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing study was funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human

The Center for Sport Policy and Conduct (Sport Center) at Indiana University, Bloomington has excellent capsule definitions of violence, aggression, and deviance According to the Sport Center violence is defined as:

Violence can be seen as a form of physical assault based on an intent to injure another person or destroy the property of others. To continue this definition, “violence in sport violates the norms and rules of the contest, threatens lives and property, and usually cannot be anticipated by the persons affected” (Smith, 1983, p. 6). http://www.indiana.edu/~cspc/violence.htm

Aggression is defined as:

Aggression can be generally defined as all behavior intended to destroy another person’s property or to injure another person, physically or psychologically. It has been reported that action has to violate norms and rules shared by society in order to be defined as aggressive. Several experiments (Tedeschi, Gaes, & Rivera, 1977) found that a protagonist who intends to cause injury is only judged by witnesses to be aggressive when his behavior is also judged to be antinormative; in other words, when they are opposing the social rules that apply to that particular situation. Judgment is the same when the action or “intent to injure” constitutes a response to a previous provocation. If, however, the action exceeds the preceding deed, the revenge is viewed as excessive and judged as inappropriate and aggressive.

Deviance is defined as “Deviant behavior is usually that which departs from the norm; anything that goes against the accepted societal standards could be classified as such.” The subject of this article is aggressive behavior in children.

Leo J. Bastiaens, MD and Ida K. Bastiaens wrote an excellent article about youth aggression in the Psychiatric Times. One part of the article looked at the economic impact.

Before taking into account the costs of juvenile justice programs and institutions, youth violence alone costs the United States more than $158 billion each year….
US cities lose nearly $50 billion a year because of crime and violence….Reallocation of resources, new social spending initiatives, programs with a higher quality of care, and a better public health perspective would change the lives of our youths and cut the social cost of juvenile crime in the United States. http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/display/article/10168/51911?verify=0

What is Aggressive Behavior?

Dr. Dianne S. O’Connor lists the following causes of aggressive behavior in children

• Genetic and/or temperamental influences.
• Insecure or disorganized attachment patterns.
• Ongoing and unrelieved stress.
• Lack of appropriate problem solving and coping strategies.
• Limited experience with role models (e.g. peers, family members, TV. & computer games) who value and provide examples of non-aggressive behaviors.
• Ineffective parenting style: for example, authoritarian, controlling, harsh or coercive parenting style; permissive, overindulgent parenting style; rejecting parenting style; psychological problems in the parent such as depression or alcoholism.
• Poor fit between parent and child: Ineffective parenting could be an effect rather than a cause of the child’s behavior. Children’s problem behaviors may affect parents’ moods and parenting behaviors.
• Family stress, disruption and conflict. http://www.solutionsforchildproblems.com/aggressive-behavior-children.html

There are certain family and social risk factors which should alert educators and social workers that an early intervention may be needed.

Physorg.Com reports about an University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill study which cites early neglect as a predictor of aggressive behavior in children.

Early child neglect may be as important as child abuse for predicting aggressive behavior, researchers say. Neglect accounts for nearly two-thirds of all child maltreatment cases reported in the United States each year, according to the Administration for Children and Families. http://phys.org/news126764603.html
According to Joan Arehart-Treichel’s article in Psychiatric News, aggression comes in four types. She writes about a study project conducted by He was Henri Parens, M.D., a professor of psychiatry at Jefferson Medical College and a training and supervising analyst at the Psychoanalytic Center of Philadelphia. “Parens and his colleagues not only met with 10 socioeconomically disadvantaged mothers and their 16 infants twice a week over seven years, but have been following up with the mothers and their offspring ever since.” According to Arehart –Treichel, the four types of aggression are
One was a nondestructive aggression, the kind the 5-month-oldgirl had demonstrated. It is children’s attempt to master themselvesand their environment. “This is a magnificent kind of aggression,”Parens said. It represents the kind that drives youngsters toexcel academically, win at sports, climb mountains, and do fantasticthings with their lives. It is inborn and essential for survivaland adaptation. It is the kind of aggression that parents shouldcultivate.
A second kind of aggression is the urge to obtain food. It toois inborn and essential for survival and adaptation.
A third kind of aggression is displeasure-related aggression(say, a temper tantrum or a rage reaction), and a fourth kindof aggression is pleasure-related aggression (for example, teasingand taunting). Neither is inborn; both are hostile aggression,and both are activated by emotional pain. In other words, hurtinga person’s feelings can generate hostile aggression. That istrue for all people. In contrast, people whose feelings arenot hurt will probably not engage in hostile aggression.

According to Parens’ observations a good deal of the aggression behavior observed in the children in the study was related to how their parents treated them.

Aggressive Behavior in Boys

PBS has a good description of aggression in boys and what characteristics are normal and not necessarily cause for concern.
Why do boys become aggressive? Sometimes boys are aggressive because they are frustrated or because they want to win. Sometimes they are just angry and can’t find another way to express that feeling. And some may behave aggressively, but they’re not aggressive all the time.

An active boy is not necessarily an aggressive one. “We often see young boys playing out aggressive themes. It’s only a problem when it gets out of control,” comments Thompson.

Competition, power and success are the true stuff of boys’ play. Many young boys see things in competitive terms and play games like “I can make my marble roll faster than yours,” “my tower is taller than yours” and “I can run faster than you.” But these games of power and dominance are not necessarily aggressive unless they are intended to hurt.

Fantasy play is not aggressive. A common boy fantasy about killing bad guys and saving the world is just as normal as a common girl fantasy about tucking in animals and putting them to bed. “Most boys will pick up a pretzel and pretend to shoot with it,” comments teacher Jane Katch. “If a boy is playing a game about super heroes, you might see it as violent. But the way he sees it, he’s making the world safe from the bad guys. This is normal and doesn’t indicate that anything is wrong unless he repeatedly hurts or tries to dominate the friends he plays with. And sometimes an act that feels aggressive to one child was actually intended to be a playful action by the child who did it. When this happens in my class, we talk about it, so one child can understand that another child’s experience may be different than his own. This is the way empathy develops.”

Only a small percentage of boys’ behavior is truly aggressive. While “all boys have normal aggressive impulses which they learn to control, only a small percentage are overly aggressive and have chronic difficulty controlling those impulses,” says Michael Thompson, Ph.D. These are the boys who truly confuse fantasy with reality, and frequently hit, punch, and bully other kids. They have a lack of impulse control and cannot stop themselves from acting out. “They cannot contain their anger and have little control over their physical behavior and this is when intervention by parent or teacher is needed,” says Thompson. http://www.pbs.org/parents/raisingboys/aggression02.html

The key point is a lot of behavior, which is normal activity for most boys is not unacceptable aggression and should not trigger the use of medication for behavior which is within the normal range.

A University of Chicago examined boys who exhibited abnormal aggression and found that there might be a physical cause.

Unusually aggressive youth may actually enjoy inflicting pain on others, research using brain scans at the University of Chicago shows.
Scans of the aggressive youth’s brains showed that an area that is associated with rewards was highlighted when the youth watched a video clip of someone inflicting pain on another person. Youth without the unusually aggressive behavior did not have that response, the study showed.
The results are reported in the paper “Atypical Empathetic Responses in Adolescents with Aggressive Conduct Disorder: A functional MRI Investigation” in the current issue of the journal Biological Psychology. Benjamin Lahey, the Irving B. Harris Professor of Epidemiology and Psychiatry at the University, co-authored the paper, along with University students Kalina Michalska and Yuko Akitsuki. The National Science Foundation supported the work.
In the study, researchers compared eight 16- to 18-year-old boys with aggressive conduct disorder to a control group of adolescent boys with no unusual signs of aggression. The boys with the conduct disorder had exhibited disruptive behavior such as starting a fight, using a weapon and stealing after confronting a victim.

Clearly, the youth in this study were not the typical boy and required intervention.

Generally, boys are thought to be more physically aggressive and girls are thought to be more socially or indirectly aggressive. Carolyn Willbert reports on a study at WebMD, which finds boys use indirect methods of aggression as well.
Girls often get a bad rap for gossiping, forming cliques, and other aggressive social behavior, as characterized in the popular movie Mean Girls. Boys, meanwhile, are known for physically aggressive behavior, such as hitting.

A new study, however, says these attitudes may be at least partly unfounded. While boys are indeed more physically aggressive, girls and boys are equally guilty of aggressive social behavior, according to the report published in Child Development.

Researchers did an analysis of 148 studies that included nearly 74,000 children and teenagers. The studies were mostly done in schools and looked both at direct aggression, which is physical or verbal, and indirect aggression, which includes covert behaviors designed to damage another person’s social relations with others, without direct confrontation.

“These conclusions challenge the popular misconception that indirect aggression is a female form of aggression,” says Noel A. Card, PhD, assistant professor of family studies and human development at the University of Arizona and the study’s lead author, in a news release.

Based on the analysis, researchers concluded that often the same kids who are directly aggressive are also indirectly aggressive. Although boys tend to exhibit more direct aggression than girls, there is little difference between girls and boys for indirect aggression. This continues over different ages and ethnicities….

Kids who are indirectly aggressive often have depression and lower self-esteem. However, they tend to have high pro-social behavior, necessary to get support of others such as convincing peers to gossip and exclude others http://news.uchicago.edu/images/pdf/081107.Decety_BiologicalPsy2008.pdf
Behavior is unacceptable when it is “intended to destroy another person’s property or to injure another person, physically or psychologically.” Purposeful harm to another person is never acceptable.
Aggressive Behavior in Girls
Dr. Nicki Crick, of the University of Minnesota has studied aggression in girls. Her work in the field of relationalship aggression is summarized:
Most studies about aggressive behavior in children have focused on boys and on physical expressions of aggression. “It gave the appearance that girls really were sugar and spice and everything nice,” says Nicki Crick, professor of child development. “But I didn’t believe that was really the case.”

For more than six years, Crick has been conducting longitudinal studies of relational aggression, witnessed mainly in girls. Rather than physically harming others, relationally aggressive children will threaten such retaliations as: “Do this or I won’t be your friend.” Or: “If you don’t help me, I’ll tell Amy you said she was ugly….”
What the research shows

Some of Crick’s early research findings show relational aggression is related to factors such as particular types of family relationships and relationships with friends and other peers. She is especially interested in children whose aggression is gender-atypical—that is, girls who are physically aggressive and boys who are relationally aggressive.

“These kids seem to be the most at-risk for more serious social problems later in life,” she says. “The most apparent reason is that not only does their aggressive behavior make them less popular, but the fact that they’re perceived by their peers as acting inappropriately for their gender further isolates them.”

See, Gender Differences in Aggressive Behavior As with boys, Purposeful harm to another person is never acceptable.
Behavior Modification

The American Academy of Pediatricians has the following suggestions for dealing with aggressive behavior for most children
The best way to prevent aggressive behavior is to give your child a stable, secure home life with firm, loving discipline and full-time supervision during the toddler and preschool years. …

Self control

Your youngster has little natural self-control. He needs you to teach him not to kick, hit, or bite when he is angry, but instead to express his feelings through words. It’s important for him to learn the difference between real and imagined insults and between appropriately standing up for his rights and attacking out of anger.


The best way to teach these lessons is to supervise your child carefully when he’s involved in disputes with his playmates. …

Your example
To avoid or minimize “high-risk” situations, teach your child ways to deal with his anger without resorting to aggressive behavior. Teach him to say “no” in a firm tone of voice, to turn his back, or to find compromises instead of fighting with his body. …


If you must discipline him, do not feel guilty about it and certainly don’t apologize. If he senses your mixed feelings, he may convince himself that he was in the right all along and you are the “bad” one…

When to call the pediatrician

If your child seems to be unusually aggressive for longer than a few weeks, and you cannot cope with his behavior on your own, consult your pediatrician. Other warning signs include:
• Physical injury to himself or others (teeth marks, bruises, head injuries)
• Attacks on you or other adults
• Being sent home or barred from play by neighbors or school
• Your own fear for the safety of those around him….
The pediatrician or other mental health specialist will interview both you and your child and may observe your youngster in different situations (home, preschool, with adults and other children). A behavior management program will be outlined. Not all methods work on all children, so there will be a certain amount of trial and reassessment

Dr Joan Simeo Munson has some good suggestions about how to deal with aggressive behavior in young children
Medication for Aggressive Behavior

ccording to Leo J. Bastiaens, MD and Ida K. Bastiaens in their article about youth aggression in the Psychiatric Times, one of the treatment options is medication. For some children medication works and helps them to control their aggressive tendencies. Probably, more children are medicated than need to be, but the decision to use medication is highly individual and should be made in conjunction with health care providers. A second or even a third opinion may be necessary. NYU’s Child Study Center has an excellent Guide to Psychiatric Medicine for Children and Adolescents Mary E. Muscari, PhD, CPNP, APRN-BC,CFNS Professor, Director of Forensic Health/Nursing, University of Scranton, Scranton, Pennsylvania; Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, Psychological Clinical Specialist, Forensic Clinical Specialist, Lake Ariel, Pennsylvania writes at Medscape.Com about pharmacotherapy for adolescents
Before prescribing medication therapy for aggression, the clinician should ensure that the patient has a medical evaluation to rule out contraindications to treatment and to determine whether the patient’s aggressive symptoms might improve with appropriate medical care. Psychiatric evaluation is also necessary to determine whether psychosis, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, or other problems are present. Treatment of these conditions may also result in reduced symptoms of aggression. Nonpharmacologic measures should be instituted; however, when pharmacologic treatment is warranted, institute treatment with an antiaggression medication that best fits the patient’s symptom cluster.
Medication should not be a first resort, but is an acceptable option after a thorough evaluation of all treatment options has been made.

Aggressive behavior can be costly for the child and society if the child’s behavior is not modified. At least one study has found preventative intervention is effective
E. Michael Foster, Ph.D., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Damon Jones, Ph.D., Pennsylvania State University, in conjunction with the Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group, examined the cost effectiveness of the NIMH-funded Fast Track program, a 10-year intervention designed to reduce aggression among at-risk children….
Previous results showed that among children moderately at risk for conduct disorder, there were no significant differences in outcomes between the intervention group and the control group. However, among the high-risk group, fewer than half as many cases of conduct disorder were diagnosed in the intervention group as in the control group. These results were extended in the current paper to consider also the cost effectiveness of providing the early intervention. By weighing the costs of the intervention relative to the costs of crime and delinquency found among the study participants, the researchers concluded that this early prevention program was cost-effective in reducing conduct disorder and delinquency, but only for those who were very high-risk as young children.

As with many problems, the key is early diagnosis and intervention with appropriate treatment. Purposeful harm to another person is never acceptable.
Where information leads to Hope. © Dr. Wilda.com

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Underage drinking costs society big-time

16 Feb

KING5 News reported in the story Teens Who Use Social Media Most Likely to Drink and Use Drugs, Study says

A new study finds teenagers who use social networking sites, like Facebook and Twitter, are most likely to drink and use drugs compared to teens who avoid the social networks.

About 70 percent of teens say they use social networking sites every day. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University surveys teens every year in an attempt to track drugs, alcohol and tobacco use. This year, questions about social media were added.

The study states that teens that use social networking sites are twice as likely to use marijuana, three times as likely to drink alcohol, and five times as likely to use tobacco.

Some experts say kids see images of teens drinking and using drugs online, which takes the shock value out of bad behavior and leads some to think it’s what everyone is doing.

There are signs which may indicate that your child has a substance abuse problem.

How Can You Recognize the Signs of Substance Abuse?

Parents provides general signs of substance abuse and also gives specific signs of alcohol abuse, and several different drugs, narcotics, and inhalants. The general warning signs are:

·         Changes in friends

·         Negative changes in schoolwork, missing school, or declining grades

·         Increased secrecy about possessions or activities

·         Use of incense, room deodorant, or perfume to hide smoke or chemical odors

·         Subtle changes in conversations with friends, e.g. more secretive, using “coded” language

·         Change in clothing choices: new fascination with clothes that highlight drug use

·         Increase in borrowing money

·         Evidence of drug paraphernalia such as pipes, rolling papers, etc.

·         Evidence of use of inhalant products (such as hairspray, nail polish, correction fluid, common household products); Rags and paper bags are sometimes used as accessories

·         Bottles of eye drops, which may be used to mask bloodshot eyes or dilated pupils

·         New use of mouthwash or breath mints to cover up the smell of alcohol

·         Missing prescription drugs—especially narcotics and mood stabilizers

Remember, these are very general signs, specific drugs, narcotics, and other substances may have different signs, it is important to read the specific signs. Lisa Frederiksen has written the excellent article, 10 Tips for Talking to Teens About Sex,Drugs & Alcohol which was posted at the Partnership for A Drug-Free America

Huffington Post reports in the article, 

It’s no surprise that underage drinking is common in the U.S. In a 2009 study by the Centers for Disease Control And Prevention, 42 percent of high school students reported having consumed alcohol in the previous month. But what some might find shocking is the high cost of drinking-related hospitalizations.

Underage drinking takes a toll not only on teens’ health and wellness, but also on treatment facilities. A Mayo Clinic study published today found that the total cost of hospitalizations for underage drinking is an estimated $755 million per year.

According to researchers, of the 40,000 young people aged 15-20 hospitalized in 2008, 79 percent were intoxicated when they arrived at the hospital.

The average age of alcohol-related hospitalizations was 18, and 61 percent of young people hospitalized for drinking were male. The highest number of incidences occurred in the Northeast and Midwest, while the lowest frequency was in the South.


Here is the citation for the Mayo Clinic study:

Journal of Adolescent Health

Hospitalization for Underage Drinkers in the United States

Received 28 April 2011; accepted 21 October 2011. published online 15 February 2012.
Corrected Proof

Hazelton.Org has some good reasons parents should not provide alcohol to children and the reasons can be summed up with the thought, someone has  to be the adult.      

Parents are poor role models if they reinforce the idea that alcohol and other drug use is a necessary and accepted way to entertain at parties. Kids need to know how to have fun without alcohol. Parents need to talk with their children about alcohol before hosting a party. They can be responsible hosts by setting a no-alcohol rule. Provine suggested that parents greet kids at the door, make certain that no uninvited guests are allowed in, check in on the party frequently, and not allow guests to come and go. Parents should never leave the party unattended….

The situation that most frequently results in problems is when parties are held while parents are away for the weekend, said Johnson. The word travels fast about such parties, and before you know it the party is out of control, with hundreds of uninvited guests.

Rules and expectations need to be clearly spelled out with young people before drinking opportunities present themselves. Young people need to be prepared to say no to alcohol in advance of drinking opportunities. Parents need to help them choose parties where there will be no alcohol. Parents need to deliver a clear message: Alcohol and other drug use of any kind is not acceptable.   

The fact that a parent has to assume the role of their child’s friend says a lot  about their lack of maturity and judgment. Unfortunately, for some children, mom and dad are growing up right along side them.

Assuming you are not one of those ill-advised parents who supply their child with alcohol or drugs like marijuana in an attempt to be hip or cool, suspicions that your child may have a substance abuse problem are a concern. Confirmation that your child has a substance abuse problem can be heartbreaking. Even children whose parents have seemingly done everything right can become involved with drugs. The best defense is knowledge about your child, your child’s friends, and your child’s activities. You need to be aware of what is influencing your child

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