Violent teens may be influenced by parents

Violent teenagers may be influenced by the actions of their parents with regard to their disposition to fighting. This is the suggestion of new research to be presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting in Boston, which found adolescents may emulate the behaviour of their relatives or the pro-combat attitudes of their mother and father.

Dr Rashmi Shetgiri, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Children's Medical Center in Dallas, noted that the findings suggest interventions to prevent such actions should include youngsters and their mum and dad. She said: "Parents and other adults in the family have a substantial influence on adolescents' engagement in fighting."

The study highlighted numerous reasons why children believe they are forced into violent situations.These include self-defence, attempts to gain respect among others, stress-related anger and responses to verbal insults. Young girls, meanwhile, said jealousy and gossip are among the main reasons for their disagreements.

Dr Gordon Milson, a Chartered Psychologist and Associate Fellow said: "This research is welcome in relation to its methodology of taking a developmental approach to psychopathology and troubling behaviour. 

"It is a recognised aspect of interventions when working with young people who present with difficulties of aggression to assess the familial structure, approach to conflict resolution and indeed attitudes to violence. It is not surprising that children whose parents have pro-fighting attitudes are more susceptible to view violence as a means to resolve difficulty and conflict.

"The systemic approach suggested by the researchers to therapeutic intervention, is, in most Child and adolescent services in the UK, the preferred strategy."