The findings were published online July 12 and in the August print issue of Pediatrics.
"The study certainly points out some important findings that should be further explored," said Mary Alvord, a clinical psychologist in private practice in Rockville and Silver Spring, Md. But she cautioned that a key limitation of the research was that it determined violent or socially aggressive behavior on the basis of just two items, "so it's important not to overgeneralize the results," she added.
"My observations over the years are that, although younger children fight and hit, the consequences are not as great as they are with older kids, because teens are under less supervision and monitoring by adults, and so they're more influenced by their peers and more apt to overreact," she noted.
Alvord agreed with Hemphill about the importance of parental involvement at this stage of development. "Always talk with your teens about how things are going, about their frustrations, failures, successes, attempts and efforts. Often, driving them somewhere results in the best conversations because they are literally captive," she said.
She also recommended that parents pay closer attention to their kids' friendships. "Research has indicated that teens are less prone to violence when parents monitor their peer interactions and activities. Often this means networking with other parents to find out about what their [kids'] friends are involved in," she said.
To learn more about dealing with teen violence, visit Mental Health America.
SOURCES: Sheryl Hemphill, Ph.D., senior research
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