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Survey Links Puberty to Violent Behavior
Date:7/12/2010

By Madonna Behen
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, July 12 (HealthDay News) -- A large study by U.S. and Australian researchers suggests that puberty can be associated with a substantial increase in violent and socially aggressive behavior.

Researchers from the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute at the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne, and the University of Washington School of Social Work in Seattle, examined survey data from almost 6,000 kids between the ages of 10 and 15 and reported that the odds of a child acting out violently are roughly three times higher when the child is in the middle and end of this volatile life stage, compared with just entering it.

"Puberty is a time of transition for young people, both biologically and socially," said study lead author Sheryl Hemphill, a senior research fellow at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute. "It's important that parents maintain open communication with their children and provide opportunities for them to engage in positive activities to prevent violence and aggression."

For the study, Hemphill and her colleagues examined self-reported survey data from a randomly selected group of 5th, 7th and 9th grade students in Victoria, Australia and Washington state. Roughly 1,000 students from each grade level in each location were surveyed between 2002 and 2004. Violent behavior was measured by looking at the students' answers to two questions: how often during the past year had the student attacked someone with the idea of seriously hurting the person, or beaten someone so badly that medical treatment was required.

The survey also assessed so-called "social/relational aggression" by asking students how often over the past year they had gotten back at another student by not letting the person be in their group of friends, or told lies or started rumors about someone to make other friends not like them.

The researchers found that having antisocial fr
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