Chapter 10: Social Behavior
With our best efforts at creating a safe, warm, and consistent environment at school we will continue to observe students with antisocial and aggressive behavior. Our textbook defines antisocial behavior as “behavior that disrupts the functioning of society, such as aggression and delinquency” (Bergin, Bergin. 2012). Students that continue to demonstrate aggressive behavior into middle childhood may be diagnosed with oppositional defiant disorder or conduct disorder.
Children with conduct disorder exhibit behavior that shows a persistent disregard for the norms and rules of society. Conduct disorder is one of the most frequently seen mental disorders in adolescents (www.psychiatry.org). Conduct disorders commonly coexist with other mental health problems: 46% of boys and 36% of girls have at least one coexisting mental health problem. The coexistence of conduct disorders with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is particularity prevalent (Nock, Kazdin, Hiripi, and Kesslor 2006). Those who commit crimes as children are more likely to remain career criminals through age 40 (Bergin, Bergin. 2012). However, not all students that are antisocial or aggressive will continue to demonstrate this behavior into adulthood. Our textbook identified three qualities that will diminish the likelihood that antisocial children will become antisocial adults and they include: having at least some prosocial behaviors, developing an admired skill, and becoming part of a healthy social network (Bergin, Bergin. 2012).
Aggression is behavior that is used with the intention to harm others. There are three types of aggression described in the class textbook which include physical aggression, verbal aggression, and social aggression. Examples of physical aggression include hitting, kicking, biting, pinching, and pulling hair. Verbal aggression would include cussing, calling names, and threatening others with harm. Examples of social aggression would include starting or spreading of rumors, excluding peers from a group, or refusing to acknowledge a peer.
Students that exhibit these behaviors tend to be hard to form positive relationships with in the classroom. However, there are things we can do to help teach these students prosocial skills. Many programs have been established to address concerning behaviors in the school setting. One of the most popular programs addressing behaviors is the Positive Behavior Support System (PBS). PBS is a systematic approach in which students experience supports based on their behavioral responsiveness to intervention. Most schools use a three tiered approach with all students receiving universal support in the first tier. If a student is not responsive, they may receive more intense intervention with small group instruction at the second tier. If the student continues to exhibit undesirable behaviors, a more individualized plan may be implemented at the third tier (www.pbis.org). Systems such as PBS, provide schools with the opportunity to provide specialized assistance to students with mental health, behavioral, or emotional disorders. One treatment that is currently being used to address symptoms is Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT). CBT is a form of treatment that focuses on examining the relationships between thoughts, feeling, and behaviors (http://www.nami.org). Students can use the strategies to modify the way they think to increase their coping ability. A few strategies using CBT include asking oneself, “Is this fact or fiction?” and asking questions such as, “Am I seeing the bigger picture here? Are my behaviors/actions worth the consequences?” Teachers can also conduct a functional assessment to better understand why the student is engaging in a particular negative behavior. Once the teacher has a better understanding of the function of the behavior, they can implement interventions or a behavior support plan to help increase the student’s success.
- What strategies have you used to develop relationships with students that are demonstrating antisocial behavior in your classroom?
- In your experience, do you feel mental health issues are being adequately addressed in school?
- What additional resources are available to you in order to address antisocial behavior and aggression at school?
Artesani, James A. (2001). Understanding the Purpose of Challenging Behaviors. Columbus, OH: Merrill Prentice Hall
Bergin, C.C. & Bergin, D.A. (2012). Child and Adolescent Development in Your Classroom. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning.
Conduct Disorder. Retrieved on October 23, 2013 from http://www. Psychiatry.org
Continuum of SWPBS. Retrieved on October 23, 2012 from http://www.pbis.org
Nock M. , Kazdin, Alan, Hiripi E. and Kessler, R. (2006). Prevalence, subtypes, and correlates of DSM-IV conduct disorder in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Psychological Medicine, , pp 699-710. doi:10.1017/S0033291706007082.