Throughout the world,
it can be seen that different cultures raise their children in such a way
that they can be productive as a responsible, mature member of society.
It is the parents responsibility to mold them into a productive individual.
Parents often try to shape the child into what they believe is best for
that child. Sometimes, the children's development does not conform to the
ideals of other cultures. It can also be seen that gender plays a big role
in the development of these children. The years in which children learn
to be aggressive or not is prior to the age of five. I will try and associate
the factors of aggressiveness and child development to portray whether
or not it influences the aggressiveness of that culture.
First of all, a definition of the variables to be discussed is at hand. In defining aggression, we run into problems with the cross-cultural variations between cultures. A positivist approach considers actions that cause harm to another--for example, murder or punches--to be clear examples of aggression in any cultural context. The relativist on the other hand tends to think on terms of the cultural or situational context of actions. Certain actions may not be actually aggressive but viewed in a different nature. For example, when punches are thrown in horseplay, they are restrained in their severity. Therefore, they are not aggressive in nature.
When employing aggressiveness, different venues are often used in the face of social conflict. These strategies include verbal insults or physical abuse, like murder or assault. Whether or not an individual chooses to be direct or indirect, depends on their preference. One may choose the direct approach and confront another individual face to face, or they may spread rumors about the individual, exclude them socially, or block them from achieving a certain goal. It should be noted that humans are not inevitably, innately violent. That is a learned trait that varies from culture to culture. In contrasting the cultures of the Yanomamo and the Semai, one can see aggressiveness is culturally based. The Yanomamo of South Africa show high levels of physical aggression. Men that are strong, belligerent, and fierce are valued in their community. Disputes are resolved through duels. These duels entails chest-pounding, club fights, and spear fights. The club fights end only when one of the two men collapse. Afterwards, the scars from the fights are displayed with pride, as signs of their aggressiveness. The aggressive nature of these people follow culturally prescribed patterns of their society. Very different from the Yanomamo people are the Semai of Malaysia. The Semai children learn through socialization processes to never strike another human being. Children in this culture are never hit by their parents. It is reported that the Semai people never feel anger, and those that do, do not express their feelings through physical attacks. In this culture, murders and violence are virtually nonexistent. Through the contrast of these two cultures, human nature is flexible regarding how physical aggression is expressed by individuals and their cultures.
By defining, in part, what determines aggressive behavior, we can now see how it affects child development in cultural contexts. Early socialization influences adult behavior by shaping the personality of the individual. Early learning experiences prepare individuals for patterns of conflict and cooperation in their society. Several psychological approaches associate harsh and sever child training practices with later aggressivity. A number of specific cross-cultural studies find a positive association between harsh socialization practices and physical aggression. Aggression seems to develop from severe punishment through internalized hostility to later behavioral forms of violence.
Another factor in the development of aggressive nature of individuals is that of warmth and affection of the parents. The presence of low violence and conflict is associated with the child rearing practices of affection, warmth, and the display of love towards the child. Greater expression of affection toward children can be cited as a determinant of cooperation. Other factors of this type are: the emphasis of values such as trust, honesty, generosity, and closer father-child ties. In Montuga, there are seven societies that portray a low level of internal conflict and aggression. In these societies, great affection is frequently directed toward the child, whose overall feelings of security are high. Overt expression of aggression is discouraged, but not through physical punishment. Persons with high levels of aggression, in which a child may imitate, are absent from these societies.
In male dominated cultures, frustration develops when boys grow up with strong ties with their mother due to the absence or aloofness of the fathers. These bonds must be severed in order to meet the societies expectations of the adult's male role. One particular way this is done is through initiation rites. Maternal ambivalence is also a contributing factor to a young man's frustrations. Women living in patrilocal, polygynous societies have neither strong ties to their natal families nor strong affective bonds with their husbands. Women in these settings develop strong bonds with their children, but also take frustration out on them. The result is that males in such cultures develop feelings of shame towards females. Egotistic personalities which are preoccupied with early development tasks, pride, and self-enhancement, and prone to aggressive actions are common in these cultures. Distant father-child ties promote aggressivity, while close, affectionate bonds are associated with low over conflict. It is the contention that distant fathers produce children who are insecure in interpersonal relationships and are more ready to engage in open aggression against outgroups. A cultural study shows that early low adult male salience was most marked in the two cultures with the highest rates of physical assault and homicide. In this study, it is shown that there is a strong correlation between father absence and juvenile delinquency in western settings. Whiting and Whiting report that distant fathering is associated with training boys to be warriors, and West and Konner find a clear relationship between low father-child closeness and high warfare.
In the societies where the children's behaviors are more authoritarian and aggressive, the extended family is common, the father has a smaller role in child rearing, is present less, overt husband-wife conflict is often higher, and child-father contact is lower. Among both human and non-human primates, close father-child ties are associated with lower aggressivity and conflict. There is noticeably less stress among infants(particularly among males) and lower subsequent aggression, the more adult males are involved in child rearing.
Early experiences become critical in establishing an individual's capacity to cooperate with others and provide a framework for interpreting their behavior. Individuals who have experienced early lack of affection and harsh treatment will have much more trouble in establishing warm sooperative bonds with others os adults and will be more prone to view the behavior of others as hostile and threatening. The higher the male gender identity conflict in a society, the higher the level of internal conflict.
Child development with regards to cross-cultural studies began in the 1920's and has engaged in numerous psychological anthropologists. In 1925 in American Samoa, Margaret Mead beagn the first of several problem-oriented investigations in the South Seas. She came to the negative conclusion about previosly accepted generalizations, arguing that emotional conflict sedom occurred among adolescent samoan firls and that animistic thought was absent among the children of Manus Island in New Guinea. Her conclusions frequently proved controversial and her stance that a single exception was sufficient to overturn a generalization has become unacceptable in light of understanding of probabilistic rather than perfect regularities. Unlike most traditional societies, U.S. culture induces neurotic tendencies in the areas of responsibility, authority, and sexual behavior by discontinuous training of children vis-s-vis later expectations in adulthood.