Aggressive behaviour in schools all over the world has become an overwhelming problem with serious consequences for teachers. Reports on increasing levels of disorderly behaviour come out daily, shocking the society. Aggressive behaviour is generally associated with social isolation, juvenile crime and school dropout. There are many causes for these disorderly behaviours. Home and family are often the starting point, for example a parent who is indifferent towards his/ her children or who is him/ herself a bully.
Some commentators argue that free access to all television programmes from the very early ages, and access to violent electronic games encourages children to imitate these ‘heroes’. At school they may display a variety of aggressive or disorderly behaviour, as they find a wide field of action and many victims to harass or terrorise.
This essay will try to analyse and determine the various kinds of aggressive behaviours of children at schools to find out the causes and try to establish the solutions to eliminate such behaviour if possible. The causes could be psychological, medical, merely a tendency for boasting or even an aggressive nature with an urge to bully and dominate others so as to feel good. Psychical, verbal or psychological blackmail is used by bullies to intimidate weaker children, sometimes with even tragic results on both parties’ future lives.
Programmes have been proposed and followed by teachers to reduce these problems as Olweus (1991) states. Teachers can try various strategies based on experience or psychology to prevent such behaviours in their classrooms where they are the final recipients of these acts. It is a challenge because if a teacher cannot resolve any incident quickly it may create a problem for the whole class. The learning time would be reduced and children would get distracted. Teachers must keep a positive ambiance in their classroom by cutting short all attempts. This can be a very stressful business for the teacher but it is a challenge which has to be met. The teacher may have to approach both the aggressor and the victim as they are equally in need for assistance. The teachers have a variety of ‘weapons’ to draw on which will be displayed in this essay. Most of these are based, as already mentioned, on experiences, as each case has to be dealt with differently. The co- operation between teachers and families is also imperative for good outcomes. All new teachers are aware that they will surely encounter aggressive or disorderly behaviours sooner or later in their classroom and therefore they have to be prepared. All efforts should be made to diminish the problem and help those children to control their behaviour. No one really believes that the problem will vanish in one day or in the near future. Therefore, co- operation between teachers, especially those who have longer experience, is very helpful to new teachers.
Problems of disruptive behaviour in schools
According to the Oxford English Dictionary (undated), the definition of aggression is the ‘feelings of anger or antipathy resulting in hostile or violent behaviour; readiness to attack or confront’. Another definition for the challenging behaviour is the ‘culturally abnormal behaviour(s) of such intensity, frequency or duration that the physical safety of the person or others is likely to be placed in serious jeopardy or behaviour which is likely to seriously limit or deny access to and use of ordinary community facilities’ (Emerson, 1995:4- 5). According to Oakland (2000:1) ‘aggressive behaviour in schools is a widespread problem that can damage a school’s climate, adversely affect students’ academic learning and emotional development, and precipitate extreme incidents of violent behaviour, including suicide and homicide’. Such behavioural disorders are a topic which has become more important generally and particularly in the area of education, and one of the most important types of behaviour to deal with is the aggressive behaviour (Lawrence, 2006).
There are different types of aggressive behaviour. Specifically, Lawrence (2006) states that the aggression is divided into two categories: the verbal and the physical. Verbal assaults such as insults, threats, sarcasm, swearing are all intended to cause emotional or psychological pain. As to the psychical aggression, the intention is to hurt vandalise or terrorise by bullying. Shaffer (2002) highlights that aggression is different from, and it should not be confused with, rough play with no harm intended. In addition, there are other types such as the relational aggression or social aggression and verbal aggression. These include the snubbing and the ignoring behaviour towards other people as well as the wish to make others feel bad and damage their self- esteem. Another type of aggression is the retaliatory or reactive aggression, following a real or imagined provocation. Finally, there is the instrumental or proactive aggression. In this case, people use the specific behaviour in order to reach their personal goals and gain access to specific objects or privileges. The research on the development of aggressive or antisocial behaviour has concentrated mainly on behaviours which are socially undesirable, as Tremblay (2000) suggests. Childhood aggression is a very sensitive matter of particular interest because it will often affect the future lives of these children and make them maladjusted and often failures in their academic lives and their personal lives, with a possible criminal future as Loeber (1990) mentions.
There are many causes for aggressive behaviours but they are mainly divided into two categories: biological (chromosomal, genetic) and environmental (social learning, children rearing practices, school teacher/ parents cooperation). Biologically males are proven to be more aggressive physically or verbally compared to females (Mussen, Conga, Kagan and Huston 1984). Matlin (1998) highlights that home and school environments are a main source or cause for aggressive tendencies through negative influence of parents. Children tend to imitate their parents’ behaviour, for example if parents are indifferent and ignore the aggression among the children leaving them uncontrolled and unpunished, avoiding the difficulty of retaining their personal peace. On the other hand, parents might be too strict, punishing the child for the least undesirable action, using physical punishment such as spanking, or psychological blackmail to control their disorderly behaviour. Some parents even encourage the children to be aggressive and bullies as they themselves are.
Studies have shown that electronic media can contribute to the development of aggression among youngsters from infancy to adolescence (Shaffer, 2002). They want to imitate those ‘heroes’ in real life. They dress and act accordingly, sometimes even endangering themselves. Parents can control the types of programmes and games the children watch and play. Unfortunately, many parents in developing countries cannot effectively use the various computer programmes that can block access to unwanted sites (Lefrencois, 2001). Further tolerance of aggression and violence in many communities increases the possibility for children to turn to violence as they follow examples as Graig et al. (2000) underline.
The existence of serious mood in another member of a family, the violence, the conflicts, the lack of love, communication and comprehension in the family, the loss of loved people, the stress for the school performance and the exposure to antisocial models, all favour misbehaving (Pizogianni, 2006).
Impacts of violent behaviour
Aggression has a cost for both the aggressor and the victim, Lawrence (2006) mentions. In particular the aggressive behaviour in the classroom may have negative impacts on the teachers, the fellow pupils and on the violent children themselves. This situation can provoke a lot of problems in the school and in the life of people in general (Lawrence, 2006). First of all, when teachers have to deal with challenging behaviour, this may result to severe difficulties in teaching as well as in their physical and the professional well being. Furthermore, the aggression of students may create big frustrations to teachers concerning their job and as a result make them want to throw away their work (Flannery et al., 2004). On the other hand, the violent behaviour also influences the fellow pupils in the classroom. One of the most important results is the low self esteem of children. In particular children, who receive aggression from their classmates, lose their self- confidence and in some cases they suffer from depression. Moreover, there is the possibility of social isolation. In this case, children do not feel very comfortable and they do not want to make friends. Another impact is that these children do not have the desire to go to school, have a lot of absences, have big difficulties to ascribe in their lessons and they often desire to change schools (Thomas, 2006). Besides, this situation may also create problems particularly to violent children themselves. Most of the times, such attitudes have as a result the expulsion of children from the school. Moreover, violence has as a consequence the low academic performance, which can lead to academic failure. This failure does not give the opportunity to these children to become more positive and make educational progress (McEvoy, 2000). This can disrupt the schools’ educational progress and therefore it should be prevented or at least minimised preferably with support from social sectors (home, school, work) (Lawrence, 2006).#p#分页标题#e#
Teachers’ strategies about the violent behaviour
Teachers in public schools confront such aggressive attitudes every day which influence the entire learning situation and action has to be taken and methods to be used, comparing with other teachers, to find new ways to cope with this problem. Given that teachers are the ones responsible to handle disorderly behaviour, they have to try and keep a positive school room climate, Song & Swearer (2002) believe. They also support that recent studies unfortunately show that teachers and some schools staff copy the bullying behaviour of the children. Their dealings with aggressive attitudes may influence the future behaviours of both bullies and victims. Unfortunately, bullies often go without punishment and thus they go on practising their methods. ‘The social construction of challenging behaviour implies that the identification of challenging behaviour will vary across settings, with some settings able to manage more severe behaviours such that the behaviours are not perceived to be challenging’ (Oliver et al., 2003:53). Overall eighty- five percent of the teachers claim they did intervene but only thirty- five percent of the pupils have the same view of the problem. If teachers do not understand that bullying is a serious problem they may not intervene effectively to stop it from the start. According to Boulton (1997), social inclusion, manipulation and other types of relative aggressive behaviours are sometimes not noticed by teachers who do not consider them as aggressions and often do not intervene. The preferred method used by teachers to deal with disorderly or challenging behaviour is to try and correct it, as Harris et al. (1996) suggest. However some teachers avoid or ignore the problem by distracting the parties and removing them from the situation. Kiernan (1994) in his study described other forms of dealing with aggression with ‘time out’ in special rooms, support staff, or even the use of medications.
The aggressive behaviour of children in schools is a topic which has become increasingly common in educational literature (Tremblay, 2000). The quality of the relationship between teacher/ children and the level of aggression is greater for children whose relationships with their parents are more negative than those with more positive relationships, Meehan (2003) underlines. There is evidence that negative relationships with parents create an aggressive behaviour in the classroom. Teachers working with aggressive students have invented various techniques, preventive and consequential strategies to deal with them in individual basis (Ruhl, 1985). The first strategy is that educators have to create rules which are to be followed by all pupils during the school day. Also, for example, tokens or point systems can be established to encourage appropriate behaviour.These points are to be used to earn various benefits for the students. Secondly, rules alone cannot prevent or reduce all aggression, so other forms of strategies are needed such as oral or written agreements established between both parties defining responsibilities as Olsen (1982) supports. In particular both teachers and students should discuss about the regulations as well as to remind and determine the obligations of each one. Thirdly, students involved in the decision making process in the classroom can feel they are responsible and thus diminish or eradicate disorderly behaviour. Mathew (1982) has shown that cognitive behavioural techniques such as training students with creative problem solving skills can lead to reduced aggression. Another method is to create a positive outlet for the energy and the possible frustrations of the youngsters a physical activity is recommended, though this is not always followed by teachers. Furthermore, a consequential measure taken is the time out which most teachers do use. Usually, for younger pupils this is the corner of the classroom or outside in a different room. Another one is the verbal reprimands and tension relief with humour are also useful strategies available to teachers. It could be effective with some less aggressive children but not with others who may increase their disorderly attitude. In dealing with the situation with humour many teachers find it effective and frequently use this approach. Finally, punishment is often used in the public school such as a trip to the headmasters’ office for severe punishment. This isolation may calm the student and the classroom but the repetition shows the ineffectiveness of the teacher to solve the problem in the classroom, so teachers may avoid this. Physical punishment or spanking is nowadays not used in any scholar institution, since it shows no effectiveness but may create more aggression. Perhaps an essay pertinent to his problem is assigned to the student by the teacher urging him thus to understand and correct his attitude (Mathew, 1982).
Nevertheless, there are also some difficulties in the implementation of teaching strategies (Livaniou, 2004). One basic difficulty is the non common attitude of the teachers. In particular, there are teachers, who use elastic solutions and others who use more fierce solutions. There is no one common line and this makes the situation even more complicated. Another problem is the lack of teachers’ training and knowledge about this topic and as a consequence not managing the aggressive behaviour in the classroom. Moreover, a school may not have suitable resources such as pictures, flowers and bright colours in order to make a positive environment, which is a significant factor to avoid undesirable behaviours. Finally, very often there is absence of basic interventions such as the family- factor and thus may lead to more violent behaviour and to removal from the school (Livaniou, 2004).
Male (2003) refers that teachers in general find that challenging behaviour is very stressful. Some believe they are effective in dealing with it, while others feel upset and do not know what to do. They try to find a solution but they are not able to manage to prevent it. Teachers discuss their problems among themselves hoping to find new more effective methods, strategies and techniques. On the other hand Brophy (1996) believes that it is sometimes hard to forge positive relations with the students and keep control of the class. As a result teachers often use punitive discipline with more negative results and producing more defiant students, Hamre & Pianta (2001) indicate. With all above problems teachers feel all kinds of emotions. More specifically, they quote the frustrations on the futility of their work, anger and may feel a loss as they try to be understanding and eager to find a problem solving solution. They may also be upset and exhausted from the confrontation. They complain about how stressful the job as become (Male, 2003).
To sum up, in this paper the basic point is the aggressive behaviour in the classroom. In the first part of this study the definition is given, in addition to the types as well as the causes of aggressive behaviour. Then, there is reference on the impacts of such behaviour on the teachers, the fellow students and on the violent children themselves. In the second part, the central issue is the strategies and methods, which the teachers should follow in order to confront these violent behaviours and what problems and difficulties they face in its implementation.
As it is derived from the aforementioned information, one can observe that aggressive and disorderly behaviours in life and particularly in the case of schools are increasing with disastrous consequences. It starts with a defiant attitude which if not stopped may rise to a disorderly one and then towards an aggressive behaviour. A lot has to be done to seriously deal with the problem, starting from home and the attitude of parents towards in children (Meehan, 2003). Teachers can only play an advisory role at this point and hope for their understanding and willingness to assist in order to help their young ones. The government’s social programmes are the most efficient to help the families. At school, teachers are confronted every day with all kinds of defiant/ disorderly attitudes. As shown above, even toddlers can be violent. What is to be done? There is no definite solution given in any book. Each teacher must find himself the most plausible solution to terminate in order to keep a positive control of the class because if he ignores it or is not effective, then he will lose control gradually. The teacher will have to use his skill and all known strategies without using strict punishments, as Lawrence (2006) mentions. Teachers starting their careers have to be well aware of the forthcoming problems and try to learn as much as possible about the strategies or attitudes of older teachers. They have to try to reason with the pupil or to distract him with a task or a discussion. Repetition of the aggression and the punishments may end with the pupil being expelled from school and condemn him to a worst future which may lead to crime. One can see that it is not possible to help and save all children but just do one’s best and try as hard as possible to save most of them and turn them out into the society as useful citizens in a better world for the benefit of all concerned. The only way is to be as prepared as possible, use common sense, have a good knowledge of the psychology of children, follow the strategy that were formed from experiences and ask other teachers, with a longer experience, for their advice.