Term Paper: Norms of Behavioral Theorists

Pages: 5 (1485 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 0  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Children  ·  Buy This Paper

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[. . .] This peer subgroup affiliation has a strong influence on a sense of school membership, whether negative or positive. Subgroups or cliques are not a new phenomenon. The concern is when these groups become outright hostile toward each other or the subgroups prohibit a school from becoming a community of learners. Teacher/adults can positively or negatively influence the separation among groups.

Individual influences of problem behavior range from poor self-esteem, low achievement, low school attachment, and low or no participation in school activities. Familial influences of misbehavior include an inconsistent discipline style, a stressful family environment, and low parent involvement. School or institutional influences involve factors such as school size and school climate. Researchers have found a large school size (defined by enrollment) and a poor school climate to be associated with student behavior problems. Research on the social influences of behavior problems centers on one factor - the influence of a student's peer group. See Giancola (1998) for a detailed accounting of the research in each of these four areas.

The media are the biggest educators in today's society (Strategies, 1992). "By age 18 a young person will have seen 350,000 commercials and spent more time being entertained by the media than any other activity except sleeping" (Davies, 1993, p. S-28).

Such media-saturation is cause for concern, especially in the area of health. Davies (1993) discussed the impact of the media on adolescents in terms of nutrition; sexual information, alcohol and tobacco, violence, and stress the media perpetuate poor diet decisions. One study estimated that early adolescents between two and 12 contributed $82.4 billion in food and beverage purchases in 1990 (McNeal, 1992). This figure is alarming when studies show most of the advertised foods contain little nutritional content (Dwyer, 1982; Gerbner, Gross, Morgan, & Signorielli, 1982). Even more alarming is the issue of body image. Young adolescents are led to believe that the media-created image of the ideal body is how their bodies should look (Davies, 1993). This leads to females trying to look like Cindy Crawford and Kate Moss. In their attempt to have the perfect body, females often end up adopting fad diets that may lead to more serious eating disorders (Davies, 1993). Davies (1993) also points out that boys are susceptible to media body images because they want to build muscles like many actors and sports heroes. This desire to "bulk up" often leads to poor diet and possibly the use of steroids.

According to Media Literacy (1989), a textbook published by the Ministry of Education in Ontario, what we know about the world beyond our immediate surroundings comes to us via the media. Unfortunately, the media does not present its messages in a neutral and value-free way; it shapes and distorts reality (Considine, 1990; Melamed, 1989). This poses a problem for society. Individuals, especially students, are unable to distinguish between genuine and questionable messages sent by the media. For example, NBC's "ER" has encouraged responsible sexual behavior by showing Dr. Doug Ross giving condoms to a teenage girl who was living on the street, but it also depicted irresponsible sexual behavior when it was revealed that Dr. Peter Benton got his girlfriend pregnant. In order to handle these mixed messages young people must be taught to be responsible consumers of the media. But who is going to do the teaching? The logical choice is America's educators

Student misbehavior is one issue that both parents and educators agree is a problem, and it is also an issue whose influences neither parents nor educators fully understand. Hence, violent incidents such as those in Colorado, Arkansas, and Kentucky as well as the more general problem of student misbehavior seem to invoke much introspection as well as finger-pointing. Many parents blame the teachers and the school environment. Many educators blame the parents and the home environment of students. Some seem to think that an instability or vulnerability inherent in the child caused him or her to be violent. While many others believe that the media - including music, television, movies, and video games - has been irresponsible by their portrayal of youth, sex, drugs, and violence. However, laying the blame for student behavior problems is not productive, as it does not change what has happened nor does it prevent what atrocities might happen in the future. What is important is our understanding of what influences behavior problems in children and further, our ability… [END OF PREVIEW]

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