Education speaker discusses aggression in children

Tricia Friesen

Last Thursday, March 29, James Garbarino, from Loyola University Chicago, gave a lecture to a crowd of people about “The Origins of Aggression in Boys and Girls” as part of Washburn University’s education department’s 2007 Lingo lecture series.

The Lingo lecture series was structured based on a gift given to the education department by Robert and Hazel Lingo. According to Sandy Tutwiler, education department chair, the lectures are meant to be thought-provoking.

“[Lingo lectures] brings the community together to think about educational issues,” said Tutwiler. “Most people who come are in some kind of educational arena and we hope they take what they learn back and develop as teachers.”

Garbarino has been on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” as well as “Queen Latifah.” He has published several books, including his most recent publication, “See Jane Hit: Why Girls Are Becoming More Violent and What We Can Do About It.” Garbarino says girls are becoming more violent and aggressive due to their dramatically cognitive structure and our changing culture.

“Girls looking out at our culture see in movies, on television and in books that ‘good girls’ are hitting,” said Garbarino. “All changes in culture manifest themselves in children.”

Garbarino said abused kids that are at risk of being violent are very sensitive to social cues. They ignore or are oblivious to positive things and their view of the world becomes distorted. He said that in 1999 adolescent violence was 10 times higher in the U.S. than in Canada.

According to Garbarino, parents and teachers can decrease aggression by personalizing it. He used an example from “To Kill A Mockingbird” when a mob goes to Atticus Finch’s house, who is a lawyer defending Tom Robinson, an African American, with intentions to harm him. Finch’s two children, Scout and Jem, are present and know some of the members of the mob. Scout and Jen start making conversation with some of the mob members about their children and how they ate lunch together. By conversing with some of the mob they calmed them down and brought them back to their senses.

“Personalizing situations reduces aggression because it evokes norms about good behavior,” said Garbarino.