Why do children start behaving violently?
There is no simple answer to this question. However, there are some characteristics of the family and the child which affect the development of violent behaviour, as well as some characteristics of schools which may encourage or prevent violence.
Experience in the family is very important for children’s healthy development. Lack of attention and warmth, witnessing violent behaviours at home and insufficient parental supervision and care are a thriving ground for the development of violent behaviour in children. Witnessing aggressive behaviour includes parental physical and verbal aggression towards the child or interparental physical and verbal aggression. By using corporal punishment, parents send children a message that it is all right to get what we want by using anger, violence and threatening. The child will then probably use similar methods with his/her peers. On the other hand, if parents are too lenient when the child demands something stubbornly and without real reasons, they send him/her a message that such behaviour is successful in achieving goals.
Impulsive, lively children, who have plenty of energy, who are impatient and often find quick ‘solutions’ to frustrating situations, but also traumatised ones are more prone to violent behaviours. The environment experiences them as ‘bad’, attributing them bad behaviour. Such children then start behaving accordingly.
School environment is also very important for the occurrence of violent behaviour. Lack of feelings of closeness, of being accepted and of mutual respect between students and teachers lead to violent behaviours at school. Lack of teachers’ and assistants’ response to students’ aggressive behaviours and poor surveillance in some parts of the school (playground, corridors…) facilitate violent students’ aggressive behaviour and intimidation of other students.