Term Paper: Education: The Intolerance of Zero

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[. . .] For the girls, poor academic performance proved to be the most significant warning sign for later delinquent behavior. However, in the case of the boys, it was peer rejection that proved most important.

Of the 26 male adolescents who displayed high levels of antisocial adolescent behavior, 38% were rejected by their peers in elementary school....Likewise, of the 24 male children identified as being rejected by their peers in elementary school, 40% went on to display high levels of adolescent delinquent behavior. (Lewin, Davis, and Hops, 1999, 18) strong adverse reaction to peer rejection was taken as a sign of the subject's having a very high sensitivity level. A high sensitivity level combined with an inclination toward aggressive behavior is the most common cause of physically violent behavior. Individuals demonstrating this combination of behavior are far more likely to resort to physical violence as a means of assuaging their feelings of anger and rejection. Aggressive behavior can be further broken down into two distinct categories: Fighting and Nonviolent Disruptive Behavior. Children rejected by their peers who exhibited aggression in both these categories were highly likely to be classed as extremely sensitive; extreme sensitivity being a red flag for strong antisocial behavior.

Further corroborating the ideas of Lewin, Davis, Hops' study was another by Robert F. Marcus entitled, "A Gender-Linked Exploratory Factor Analysis of Antisocial Behavior in Young Adolescents," that was published in the journal Adolescence in 1999.

The participants were 72 males and 91 females in grades 6, 7, and 8 of a metropolitan middle school. Approximately 88% lived in two-parent households, 79% of mothers and 78% of fathers were college graduates; 80% of the adolescents were Caucasian, and 74% of the mothers worked outside the home. (Marcus, 1999, 36)

The study was conducted by way of a survey administered in the classroom. The survey asked respondents whether they had ever committed one or more of a variety of offenses deemed delinquent, including theft of money, public drunkenness, cutting class, assaulting someone, starting fires, and so forth. Respondents were also asked to record the frequency with which they had committed the offenses. Like the case study by Lewin et al., Marcus's study supported the idea that there are distinct differences in juvenile delinquent behavior in regard to gender. Boys were found to be far more inclined toward physical violence, but also, very significantly, their delinquent activities were discovered to be much more restricted in nature in terms of individual preference and predilection.

The factor structure of antisocial behavior for males was different from that of females in that all of the factors showed greater specialization. In addition, the factor accounting for the greatest variance was not violence, as was the case for females, but stealing/drugs/alcohol or stealing/drug sales. Among males the factors were more coherent and limited. For example, stealing/drug sales involved various kinds of theft and the sale of drugs while alcohol offenses involved driving drunk, drunkenness in public, and cutting class. The violence factor included attacking others to hurt them, using force to get things from others, and other violent behaviors, but violence was not associated with alcohol, drugs, or stealing. In other words, the males who were violent were not the same ones who were stealing and using drugs. (Marcus, 1999, 44)

While providing powerful evidence in favor of very distinct differences between male and female behavior, the Marcus study does not, however, address the causes that underlie these antisocial behaviors.

The British psychologist Hans Eysenck, in contrast, outlines four major biological factors that play key roles in the evolution of the antisocial personality. His studies of 1977 and 1997 emphasize the subject's temperament as opposed to his or her experiences of socialization. Psychoticism, Neuroticism, Extroversion, and the "Lie Factor" describe temperaments that are linked to antisocial conduct. Most significant of all is psychoticism, with the other three playing only secondary roles. (Kemp and Center, 2000, 224) An individual with a strongly psychotic bent will likely develop strongly antisocial tendencies especially if his personality is further affected by any of the other factors. The L (Lie) Factor is a measure of the antisocial personality's deviation from the social norm more than it is a gauge of how frequently or grossly the individual lies. While not actually included in Eysenck's categorizations, it is derived directly from his theories and studies. (Kemp and Center, 2000, 224) Kemp and Center's study, "Troubled Children Grown Up: Antisocial Behavior in Young Criminals," is an examination of the validity of Eysenck's ideas as applied to young adult criminals. As such it is useful in coming up with a biological hypothesis for the emergence of antisocial behavior.

Participating in Kemp and Center's study were 107 paroled prisoners - all male and 98% African-American. The overwhelming preponderance of African-Americans was an artifact of the study's being conducted in a large metropolitan area.

Participants were aged 19 to 30, with a mean age of 25.7.

Three instruments were administered to the participants, the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire-Revised (EPQ-R) (H.J. Eysenck & S.B.G. Eysenck, 1993), the Basic Adlerian Scales for Interpersonal Success-Adult (BASIS-A) (Wheeler, Kern, & Curlette, 1993), and an adapted form of the National Youth Survey (NYS) (Elliott, Ageton, Huizinga, Knowles, & Canter, 1983)....The instruments used in the study served separate and complimentary functions. The EPQ-R provided a temperate profile....The BASIS -- A provided data on participants' perception of their socialization....[And] The NYS provided a retrospective account of the participants' juvenile behavior. (Kemp and Center, 2000, 227-228)

Significantly, the NYS tests that Kemp and Center administered to the participants, afford us a window onto the youthful socialization of these adult criminals. In line with Lewin, Davis, and Hops' study, Kemp and Center's NYS tests reveal that an overall average of 35% of participants scored above the norm on aggression. (Kemp and Center, 2000, 224) This would fit well with the idea that a significant number of antisocial individuals were poorly socialized as juveniles. However, the study is somewhat handicapped by the fact that these were not real-time measurements, but rather measurements based upon the recollections of the participants, in many cases, years after the fact. Not only is there the risk of faulty memories, but there is no way of evaluating the opinions of others. It is certainly possible that participant's had overly negative or overly rosy memories of their own past based on their later experiences, or of even that they altered the responses to suit the what they believed to be the expectations of researchers delving into the criminal mind. Yet this study, together with the two previous studies, certainly makes an excellent case for peer and gender rejection's being at the core of much antisocial behavior.

But these are not the only forms of rejection that can damage a child. Children raised in broken homes are for more susceptible to becoming criminals than those raised in two parent households. This is especially so of those neighborhoods that have been stricken by the blight of poverty. Growing up in a single-parent household, the child's world is incomplete.

He does not receive the attention or the guidance that he deserves. Psychologically, he believes that has been rejected by his society, by what he views as society in early childhood - his family. The missing parent leaves a void that must be filled.

In early childhood, the child experiences parental neglect or abandonment in different combinations of fatherlessness, the absence of a mother's love, parental fighting and domestic violence, lack of parental supervision and discipline, outright rejection, parental abuse and neglect, or parents who commit crimes.

In the mid-childhood years, the child is drawn to embryonic gangs of aggressive children who are rejected by their peers and who seek out other alienated children; they fail in school, lose interest in education, and begin to run wild.

In the early teenage years, the embryonic gang of grade school changes into a gang of tough, exploitative teenagers who gradually become better at committing crimes. (Fagan, 1998)

As in the case of peer and gender rejection, the sense of a lack of belonging that the single parent child feels is sublimated into other less desirable channels. The gang takes the place of the missing parent, and soon fulfills all of the normal functions of the family unit albeit in reverse fashion. The ethical and moral examples of the missing father or mother have their replacements in the strict code of the gang. Criminal behavior is regarded as valuable, and even desirable.

Still, the simmering feelings of resentment felt by the excluded of our society cannot possibly explain all of the gross violence and viciously antisocial behavior that we hear of each and every day. A child is sexually abused by a Catholic priest. A teenaged gunman opens fire in a Colorado school. A twelve-year-old boy rapes and kills a six-year-old. These are but a few of the recent headlines that paint a shocking picture of American society. We are a culture in… [END OF PREVIEW]

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