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The low self-control theory was proposed in 1990 by Michael Gottfredson and Travis Hirschi, where they said that all crime and deviance are due to low self-control (Tibbetts 218). This theory takes the assumption that all humans are born selfish and self-centered, much like other control theories, and self-control can prevent these traits. Self-control can be developed through adequate socialization and child-rearing from the parents, so the child should develop appropriate self-control. However, if these are not developed adequately, there is a potential for risky behaviors occurring and criminal activities, which is low self-control.
Furthermore, about risky behaviors, if self-control is not developed by age seven to ten years old, then there will be no self-control present in the child, and nor will there ever be in the future years. According to Tibbetts, the age for self-control to be developed is age ten, however, the article by Moon says age seven. Therefore, it is assumed that the range is age seven to ten years old that self-control should have been developed.
If self-control is not developed then specific personality traits develop, resulting in low self-control.
Personality traits that accompany low self-control are, “including risk-taking, impulsiveness, self-centeredness, short-term orientation, and quick temper,” (Tibbetts 219). The article says the traits are, which are similar, are impulsivity, insensitivity, preference of physical activity, risk-taking tendency, short-sightedness, and nonverbal orientation (Moon). The article also talks about a lack of empathy as another personality trait.
This study examines the effect of low self-control and the opportunity as it relates to two types of bullying; physical and psychological bullying.
Physical can be destroying or taking property through force, assaults, fights, and so on. Psychological or emotional can be face-to-face verbal taunting or inappropriate comments, threats, harassment, spreading rumors, or embarrassing someone using social media (Moon). Through these two types, researchers Moon and Alarid formed two hypotheses. The first is individuals with low self-control are more likely to participate in physical and psychological bullying, and general school bullying (Moon). The second is, “adolescents who are in a negative school environment and report being disciplined by teachers are more likely to engage in school bullying,” (Moon).
The two hypotheses were tested by collecting data from two middle schools that were in a large urban area and were in an economically disadvantaged district where 98% of the population in that area were Hispanic. Researchers gave out consent forms to the parents of the children in the sixth and seventh grades. “With the approval of the school administrators in each school, a letter explaining the purpose of the study was sent to parents or legal guardians of all sixth and seventh graders in each school in 2008,” (Moon et al., 2015). Out of the 620 consent forms given, three hundred and sixty consent forms were returned, between the two schools. Twenty-four of the students did not fully complete the questionnaire so those were discarded, which left 296 respondents left. Of those, 57% (168 students) of respondents were girls and 48% (128 students) of the respondents were boys, and 94% were Hispanic (Moon et al., 2015).
The questionnaires given to students were thirty to forty-minute questionnaires that had many variables. The independent variables were opportunity factors, parental supervision, school environment, and the actions of teachers with punishment. Next, the only dependent variable was self-reporting their involvement in bullying. Then there were the control variables which were gender, family, structure, parental income, and academic performance. Each variable was addressed and measured by the student’s responses to statements that students had to either agree/disagree to or rate on a scale of 0 to 4 or 5.
The results were as followed:
• Self-control was a significant predictor of bullying.
• Opportunity measured stronger than low self-control.
• The school environment was a big predictor of psychological bullying.
• Negative student interaction with teachers was another big measure, and parental monitoring has decreased, therefore, supports that bullying has increased.
• Most influential opportunities were the association with other bullies.
These results were consistent with what was predicted by Gottfredson and Hirschi in 1990 and support their theory of bullying (Moon et al., 2015).
Evaluation. The article had many strengths and weaknesses, both of which have an equal amount of reasons, which was four. The first strength was the researchers collected data from a large urban area, so it was a better area to collect data from in comparison to a quiet small town in the middle of nowhere. Second, psychological and physical types of bullying were examined in relation to low self-control, which prior studies did not do. Third, this study also examined the effects of opportunity pertaining to low- self-control and bullying, again, previous studies did not do. Lastly, the highest rates of bullying are said to be in middle school-aged children, “30% of students in grades 6 through 10 reported moderate or frequent involvement in bullying, with the highest rates of bullying among students in grades 6 through 8,” (Unnever et. al., 2003). Therefore, researchers picked a good age group.
As far as weaknesses, only 296 surveys were completed out of the roughly 1400 students in both schools. Second, this study conducted was cross-sectional, so we only saw the responses of the students at one time. Longitudinal studies would have been better to conduct to see long-term effects of bullying with opportunities, as well as the progression into later school years. Third, the study was restricted to one area, more specifically one district, so it did not expand out to other schools. It does not give an overall picture if it is confined to one area. Lastly, the Hispanic population was disproportionately larger than compared to the city demographics.
Policy. There are four policy implications that I have come up with, two policies that were suggested in the article, and two I formulated. The first policy I came up with is billboards/signs should be placed throughout the school that has some form of message about bullying, a message that might deter students, or make students sympathize with those bullied. Second, parents should get involved in their children’s lives earlier in their life, so perhaps there should be programs available for parents of infants to help educate them and assist them in forming social bonds with their children. The article talked about programs that get parents more involved in forming social bonds with children, however, I feel that parents should get involved earlier than what was suggested. This way, it helps prevent and create healthy habits for children.
Third, the article suggested peer mediation programs to train students on how to be a support system for those who have been bullied. This is in place of having adults get involved as a support system but does not completely disregard adults from the process. Peers influence peers and can relate easier to each other since they are in the same age group. “Associating with other bullies is the most difficult factor to prevent, but bullying is only effective if it continues to be reinforced by one’s peer group. Other students could be involved in the solution rather than contributing to the problem,” (Moon et. al). By getting peers involved, it may make a difference and help those who have been bullied feel they can go to someone. Lastly, social activities that get all the children involved and interacting in a fun manner, will help build leadership skills and boost the self-esteem of those who feel left out. It might even break up the cliques and encourage the exploration of other groups of people.
Finding articles relating to low self-control theory and school bullying was challenging. Using Google Scholar, I did not come across any articles that appeared helpful so then I used the Worcester States library database, and unfortunately, I do not recall the exact words I used. I do recall not coming up with many articles, which lead me to email, Dr. Brooks, explaining I was coming up empty. From there, Dr. Brooks suggested using, “low self-control” and “school bullying”, as search terms in the WSU library database, which resulted in roughly 54,000 results. I then selected one out of the five articles I found that were relevant.
The two articles in my citations paper that Dr. Brooks suggested, were later disregarded, after finding a better source. I was searching for my article in the database that I had originally selected when I came across one that was a better choice, which is the article by Moon and Alarid. I found this article to be more interesting and less complicating. What I mean is, the previous article I selected, in addition to my theory, also included ADHD students. I found this might be too specific of a subject, despite Dr. Brooks agreeing it was a good article. I felt I picked the better article, in the end.
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