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Risk Factor Models for Adolescent Verbal and Physical Aggression Toward Fathers

NCJ Number
Journal of Family Violence Volume: 24 Issue: 3 Dated: April 2009 Pages: 173-182
Linda Pagani; Richard E. Tremblay; Daniel Nagin; Mark Zoccolillo; Frank Vitaro; Pierre McDuff
Date Published
April 2009
10 pages
This study identified predictors of adolescents’ verbal and/or physical aggression against their fathers in the last 6 months among a longitudinal sample of 2,908 French-Canadian children assessed from the end of kindergarten to mid-adolescence.
The study found that 12.3 percent of boys and 9.5 percent of girls had engaged in physical aggression against their fathers in the last 6 months, and more than half engaged in verbal aggression. There were no significant gender differences in the risk of being aggressive toward fathers. A childhood pattern of aggressive behavior was associated with greater risk for both adolescent verbal and physical aggression toward fathers. The degree of risk increased in proportion to the severity and chronicity of violent behavior from grades one through six. Adolescents characterized as inherently aggressive who also had aggressive fathers (apt to use more authoritarian reproaches) were more likely to be involved in a cycle of reactive aggression toward their fathers. A family environment characterized by weak parent-child involvement through shared activities and positive communication added to this risk. In addition, there were significant predictive associations between problematic adolescent substance use and verbal and physical aggression against fathers. The use of verbal punishment by fathers in interactions with their adolescents in the last 6 months was also associated with both verbal and physical aggression toward fathers. Given the links between a persistently violent childhood life-course and aggressive behavior toward fathers who are assertive suggests that aggressive adolescents have not developed appropriate self-regulation techniques in situations of conflict or frustration. This finding makes a case for the early identification and preventive management of aggressive children that includes parental support and education. 3 tables and 43 references