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Rural Delhi: Beliefs, co-education buttress violence in adolescents

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Rohit Shishodia
Beliefs such as “If you back down from a fight, everyone will think you are a coward”, support violence in adolescents, reveals a cross-sectional study conducted by the Department of Community Medicine, Safdarjung Hospital, Delhi. The study was conducted among 270 adolescents from grade eight to ten in three schools in West Delhi.

The study, published in Community Mental Health Journal, found that 31.7% of government co-ed schools expressed agreement with the belief that ‘it makes them feel big and tough to push someone around’ while majority of girls in all girls’ school disagreed with the same.

“Significant statistical difference was seen with respect to beliefs such as ‘if you back down from a fight, everyone will think you are a coward’, ‘it is OK to fight someone when angry,” found the study.

Nearly half the adolescents, 49% from government co-ed schools and 40.7% from private schools, agreed with the statement that ‘If I walk away from a fight, I would be a coward.'

“Aggression and violence was more in co-education schools as compared to girls’ schools. The girls’ only schools had less aggressive behavior and violence. Girls of the co-educational schools had higher violent behavior as compared to girls’ only school,” revealed the study.

“By this study the learning is this that this aggressive behavior and belief system are actually leading to violence. If the child has belief in aggression, he is going to be more violent. If aggressive behavior is taken as normal in the society, and if it is promoted in males, then the child is going to be violent,”  said Dr Jugal Kishore, Director-Head, Department of Community of Medicine, Safdarjung Hospital, Delhi.

“If a child sees his father beating his mother, the male child learns all this. Similarly, outside the house, if he finds more fights involving males as compared to females, he develops the feeling that aggression is justifiable or it is normal. In movies, the violence is associated with gender,” added Dr Kishore, who is also one of the authors of the study.

“The learning is here that the belief system in the adolescents is to be handled and it is possible when in schools we have some programs which can inculcate positive and non-violent belief as compared to violent belief, then the violence can be reduced,” concluded Dr Kishore.


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