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OP-6. - AGGRESSION DURING CHILDHOOD  

OP-6.1.-Differentiating Childhood Character Models of Aggression: A Rationale for Treatment

Hughes, T.
Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania USA

There is general agreement that causal pathways of aggression comprise dynamic, interacting individual and contextual factors resulting in aggressive phenotypes. In children, identification of individual and
contextual predictors of aggression is complicated by rapidly changing social, cognitive, and emotional developmental processes. Thus, a coherent classification system for organizing causes of aggressive behavior for children remains elusive; hindering efforts to prevent and treat aggression in a prescriptive, research-based manner. A review of the literature indicates a multiplicity of risk factors that differentially contribute to children's aggressive acts. This raises questions regarding early identification and whether or not early intervention is appropriate. One exception is the United States Federal Special Education law (P.L. 105-17) mandate to conduct functional behavioral assessment in cases of disruptive and aggressive behavior. Miller, Tansy, and Hughes (1998) provide a comprehensive multimodal approach to functional behavioral assessment that shows promise for guiding the identification of the pathogenic cause of a particular child's aggressive tendencies. However, the requirement is only stipulated for special education students. Children that evidence social maladjustment, or conduct disorder are excluded from special education services, thus, excluding many who act aggressively from mandated evaluation of the cause and treatment. We advocate for the extension of multimodal functional behavioral assessment to all children that evidence aggressive tendencies. While system-wide interventions are laudable, they do not effectively address the complexities of aggressive behavior for the most severely disordered, violent children. Even after a child has acted aggressively there continues to be a tendency to avoid considering causal mechanism and in strategically linking casual pathways to interventions. Multimodal functional behavioral assessment represents a solution to the problems of both identifying cause and prescribing treatments. In this approach a child's contexts are systematically examined for important and controllable distal, proximal, physiological, and intrapsychic causal factors related to aggressive behavior. After the pathogenic process has been identified interventions evidencing treatment validity for a specific cause are systematically examined and arranged for implementation. Finally, review of the intervention plan and outcome evaluation concludes the assessment-treatment cycle.

OP-6.2.-Anger priming in 14 month old children

Potegal, M., Anderson, A., Thomas, K. and Shapiro, E
Pediatric Neuropsychology Clinic, Department of Pediatrics, University of Minnesota, USA

We have previously demonstrated an attack priming effect in rodents in which exposure to, and attack upon, a "priming" target systematically reduces the latency and increases the probability of attack on a second identical "probe" target. Such priming generalizes across different situations by inducing a transient, relatively specific, centrally mediated increase in "aggressive arousal." We have argued that attack priming may be involved in variety of phenomena within the domain of aggressive behavior such as escalating threat, the duration and intensity of agonistic encounters, redirection of aggression (priming can be viewed as a formal model of redirection), and the alteration of sensori-motor function and narrowing of attention during combat. The collectivity of such effects may account for animals´ "commitment to aggression" i.e., their willingness to initiate and continue fighting despite distraction, substantial energy expenditure, injury, and risk of being preyed upon or defeated.  We have also conjectured that humans may experience a comparable priming of anger. We now report that when mothers of 14 month old children (N=88) provoked them twice in the same laboratory frustration/restraint situation, the childrens´ response to the second trial provocation was intensified. Strugglingincreased by 8%, protest vocalization by 38%, and angry facial expressions by 40%. A MANOVA showed a significant overall increase in second trial anger responding. Because a common, anger-provoking intervention by a child´s mother is involved, these observations provide a simple, ecologically valid experimental model for anger escalation which exactly parallels the "attack priming" paradigm previously developed to investigate escalation in other species. 

OP-6.3.-Preferences for physical discipline by parents of deaf children

Knutson, J.F.  and Johnson, C.R.
Department of Psychology, The University of Iowa, Iowa City, USA

There is growing evidence that children with disabilities may be at increased risk for child maltreatment.  With respect to physical abuse, it has been hypothesized that communication limitations may play a role in increasing the use of physical discipline in response to child transgressions and that this increased use of physical discipline can escalate into physically abusive episodes.  It has also been suggested that the behaviors of the child with disabilities might actually occasion the increased use of physical discipline.  To determine whether parenting a deaf child increases parental tendencies to use physical discpline, a sample of mothers of profoundly deaf children seeking a cochlear implant (n=57), a sample of mothers of profoundly deaf children who were not seeking a cochlear implant (n=22), and a sample of mothers of normally hearing children (n=27) participated in a standardized analog parenting task.  In response to visual depictions of developmentally appropriate but irritating child behaviors, as well as frankly deviant behaviors, mothers of deaf children endorsed significantly greater use of physical discipline.  Additionally, mothers of deaf children were more likely to report a willingness to escalate their disciplinary behavior in response to depictions of repeated transgressions by the child.  There were no differences between the two groups of parents of deaf children, indicating that parents seeking a cochlear  implants and parents not seeking a cochlear implant for their child do not differ with respect to willingness to endorse physically coercive discipline.  Consistent with previous research with this paradigm, depictions of dangerous and destructive behaviors were more likely to result in endorsements of physical discipline.  Because a standardized testing paradigm was used for all parents, the findings suggest that rearing a deaf child results in a generalized pattern of increased use of physical discipline that is not specific to the deaf child in the home.  The findings have implications for abuse prevention efforts among parents of deaf children and, perhaps, other communicatively limited children. 

OP-6.4.-Human Violence: a treatable epidemic

de Zulueta, F.
Traumatic Stress Service at the Maudsley Hospital, Institut of Psychiatry, London, UK

Human violence is a preventable disease. Its causes are generally known to us and, in many cases, it is treatable. So why do we have such a problem in dealing with it? This paper attempts to cover both these issues. The roots of violence lie in the secret violence of family life (figures). Women and children are more likely to be abused, threatened or even killed by members of their own family than by anybody else and the traditional male head of the family is usually the agent of violence. It commonly leads to a form of post traumatic stress disorder manifested as psychiatric illness in women and violent crime in men. It is proposed that a major underlying factor is damage to the attachment system in infancy and early childhood. Research findings in attachment and post traumatic stress disorder  will be presented showing the link between disorganised attachment in infancy and personality disorders that lead to domestic violence and social violence (such as borderline personality disorder, dissociative disorders and other forms of psychopathology). These findings show important links between damage to our attachment system and human violence. Whilst 2/3 of our population is brought up capable of forming secure loving relationships, another 1/4  have the potential to bully and hurt when giving permission or encouragement to do so. But nearly 1/5 of the population is already so damaged by abuse and terror that these men and women will often end up in hospitals if they are women, or in prison if they are men. Violence can be prevented by attending to humanity’s needs for secure attachment both in the home and in the community. This means better health care before and after birth, education for parenting, high quality nursery education, diminished legitimate violence in the media and by the government, and above all, reducing the gap between the rich and the poor, a form of structural violence that is the biggest predictor of violence in the world.