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The article “Mothers who smack turn their children into bullies” originates from the Sunday Express, September 13, 1998 and was written by Dorothy Lepkowska, Education Correspondent. The article has three underlying psychological assumptions. The first assumption is that children who grow up in an aggressive environment are more likely to become aggressive. Prof. Peter Goldsmith (psychologist) expresses “children living in a home atmosphere full of aggression are more likely to turn into bullies”.

This suggests that it is the aggressive reinforcement of the individuals in the home that affects the child’s behaviour, therefore creating a bully. This can be related to Bandura’s Social Learning Theory, where he investigated the effect role models had on children’s behaviour. His laboratory experiment was called “Bashing Bobo”, and concluded that children imitate their behaviour on behaviour they observe from other individuals. He referred to this as “Imitated Aggression”.

The second underlying psychological assumption suggests that there is a need for good and consistent parenting, with a strong bond between mother and child, for the welfare of that child. This would imply that the quality of the mother’s role with her child has a direct implication on her child’s development. In the context of this article, if a child does not have a close bond with its mother, then due to disadvantaged development, certain behaviours such as bullying behaviour maybe the consequence. Bowlby’s attachment theory (1965) supported the necessity for a mother and child bond for the child’s development. He reported, “…many problems in later life can be traced back to inadequate mothering”. This study can be related to the source, by looking into the negative effects of early experience.

The third underlying psychological assumption implies there is a division of pupils into in-groups and out groups, resulting in the bullying of certain individuals. In the article context, the in-group were the bullies and out groups being the victims. The pupils in the in-groups feeling superior, bullied the out groups, whom they saw as being inferior. Such categorising resulted in “physical attacks accounting for more than a quarter of bullying, name calling, teasing and threats of attack”, a spokesperson from childline reported. Intergroup discrimination was investigated in a laboratory experiment conducted by Tajfel (1970). He investigated into the in-groups and out groups associated between a group of teenagers. This can be related to the bullying children in the article, as their discrimination against the other children was due to their feelings of being in the associated ‘in-group’.

The psychological evidence relating to the first assumption is from Bandura, Ross and Ross’ (1961) experiment called “Bashing Bobo”. He looked at how aggression developed in children. The children observed the model playing and were then observed playing on their own. Bandura reviled “Children exposed to an aggressive model made more aggressive acts than those exposed to the non-aggressive model”.

His results also revealed “girls showed more physical aggression with a male model, and more verbal aggression with a female model. Bandura concluded, “Aggressive behaviour can be learnt and that we can learn by witness to the behaviour of others”. This implied that it is possible to learn through imitation and reinforcement from role models. It is also possible to imply that the child should witness either verbal or physical aggression, as it was not only the physical aggression imitated by the children. With the article, this evidence illustrates, children living in an aggressive environment are likely to become aggressive themselves, due to their imitated behaviour from their models in their home. Such aggressive behaviour can be related to the article, as it is possible to imply that the bullying behaviour is a form of aggression.

The psychological evidence relating to the second assumption is Bowlby’s theory on attachment, where he believed the child’s failure to hold a secure attachment between 2-4 years old (critical period) is related to an inability to develop close personal relationships in adulthood (1973). This suggests a mother/child is essential for the child’s development. Schaffer and Emerson (1964) also support the article as they report the need for consistent parenting. In relation, Bowlby’s Monotropy Theory claimed, “Attachment before critical period between mother and child is the most effective for development of the child”.

He claimed Maternal Deprivation caused “affectionless psychopathy” and reported “maternal bond could not be broken…without serious and personal damage to social, emotional and intellectual development”. These social problems relate to the bullying, a social problem for the child mixing with other individuals, therefore implying the bullies in the article may have been deprived in early childhood. Bowlby’s evidence, “44 Juvenile delinquents” (1946), related maternal deprivation and attachment to social problems found in his juvenile subjects. In relation, these social problems may be related to bullying behaviour of the children.

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