Researchers have found several social factors that attribute to childhood aggression. Some of these factors include mother infant relationships, neighborhood structure, family structure, and peer influences. If infants have an insecure attachment with their mothers, which is defined as the childs overdependence on, or lack of interest in the caregiver, and a childs lack of confidence, then they are more likely to have behavioral problems. In the case of boys, these problems are often of an aggressive nature.
Many studies have found that a single parent often raises aggressive children. Single parenthood is often associated with neighborhood type, which is another factor in predicting childhood aggression. This is because single parents are more likely to live in less advantaged neighborhoods. Aggressiveness in boys and girls is often seen in large urban areas. Studies show that children who live in disadvantaged neighborhoods are more likely to experience stressful life events that lead to aggressive behavior.
The association of single parenthood and neighborhood type helps to explain the discrepancy found in the degree of aggression. For example, if an aggressive child is reared in a single parent home, but is raised in an advantaged neighborhood, the degree of aggression will be less than that of a child raised in a single parent home that is also raised in a less advantaged neighborhood. Also, divorced families that have achieved stability may show less conflict than married families, and authoritative parenting in single parent families may outweigh the effects of family structure (Hetherington, 1992).
Additional risks associated with family structure include low parental interest in boys education, a parent that has been convicted of a crime, parental discipline that is too harsh, and authoritarian parenting. Authoritarian parenting is defined as a style of child rearing where standards for proper behavior are high and when the child misbehaves, his misconduct is very strictly punished. As children age, their play style changes.
Structured games replace rough play and the frequency of physical aggression declines. Highly aggressive children are rejected by their peers, which is sometimes seen as early as age six. This rejection further perpetuates the childs aggressive behavior and a vicious circle is created. Often, the victims of this aggressive behavior lack social skills are rejected by their peers, and are sometimes themselves aggressive. Children who are repeatedly victims are prone to become aggressors.