227877 From middle to high school: Aggression of children at high-risk for aggression

Monday, November 8, 2010

Pamela Orpinas, PhD , Health Promotion and Behavior, University of Georgia, Athens, GA
Arthur M. Horne, PhD , Counseling and Human Development Services, University of Georgia, Athens, GA
Deborah L. Bandalos, PhD , Educational Psychology & Instructional Technology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA
Patricia M. Reeves, PhD , School of Social Work, University of Georgia, Athens, GA
Katherine A. Raczynski, MS , Youth Violence Prevention Workgroup, University of Georgia, Athens, GA
Objective: Healthy Teens is a longitudinal study of adolescents followed from 6th to 12th grade. This presentation describes the developmental trajectories of aggressive behaviors of a sample selected in 6th grade as high-risk for aggression. The presentation will examine differences by: type of aggression (physical, relational), sex, source of data (self-reports, teacher ratings), and high school completion. Methods: The sample consisted of 162 students from six school districts from NE Georgia identified by teachers in 6th grade as being at high risk for aggression and influential among peers. Every spring, students completed a survey, and teachers rated students using a nationally normed behavioral rating scale (BASC), which measures externalizing behaviors (aggression, hyperactivity, and conduct problems). Growth curve modeling using the Mplus program was applied to identify the latent trajectories by sex and by high school completion. Results: In 6th grade, mean teacher rating of students' aggressive behavior was 1˝ SD above the national mean, and teachers rated aggression equally high for boys and girls. Students who completed high school, however, showed a steady linear decline in physical aggression. By 12th grade their scores were at the national average. Aggression scores of students who dropped out of school were higher than those who stayed in school, but also decreased in middle school. However, 9th grade was a critical turning point. Conclusions: The results highlight that aggression levels decrease even among the most at-risk students, as long as students stay in school. Implications for prevention and social justice will be discussed.

Learning Objectives:
Describe trajectories of aggression from 6th to 12th of children identified early as at risk for aggression. Explain differences in aggression trajectories by sex, high school completion, and source of data (teachers or students’ self-reports). Identify critical turning points for students who drop out of school.

Keywords: Violence, Adolescents

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the Principal Investigator of this study.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.