Teacher-rated aggression and co-occurring behaviors and emotional problems among schoolchildren in four population-based European cohorts
Whipp, Alyce M., Vuoksimaa, Eero, Bolhuis, Koen, de Zeeuw, Eveline L., Korhonen, Tellervo, Mauri, Matteo, Pulkkinen, Lea, Rimfeld, Kaili, Rose, Richard J., van Beijsterveldt, Catharina (Toos) E. M., Bartels. Meike, Plomin. Robert, Tiemeier. Henning, Kaprio. Jaakko, Boomsma. Dorret, I. (2021). Teacher-rated aggression and co-occurring behaviors and emotional problems among schoolchildren in four population-based European cohorts. PLoS ONE, 16(4), Article e0238667. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0238667
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© 2021 the Authors
Aggressive behavior in school is an ongoing concern. The current focus is on specific manifestations such as bullying, but the behavior is broad and heterogenous. Children spend a substantial amount of time in school, but their behaviors in the school setting tend to be less well characterized than at home. Because aggression may index multiple behavioral problems, we used three validated instruments to assess means, correlations and gender differences of teacher-rated aggressive behavior with co-occurring externalizing/internalizing problems and social behavior in 39,936 schoolchildren aged 7–14 from 4 population-based cohorts from Finland, the Netherlands, and the UK. Correlations of aggressive behavior were high with all other externalizing problems (r: 0.47–0.80) and lower with internalizing problems (r: 0.02–0.39). A negative association was observed with prosocial behavior (r: -0.33 to -0.54). Mean levels of aggressive behavior differed significantly by gender. Despite the higher mean levels of aggressive behavior in boys, the correlations were notably similar for boys and girls (e.g., aggressive-hyperactivity correlations: 0.51–0.75 boys, 0.47–0.70 girls) and did not vary greatly with respect to age, instrument or cohort. Thus, teacher-rated aggressive behavior rarely occurs in isolation; boys and girls with problems of aggressive behavior likely require help with other behavioral and emotional problems. Important to note, higher aggressive behavior is not only associated with higher amounts of other externalizing and internalizing problems but also with lower levels of prosocial behavior. ...
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Additional information about fundingThis work is part of the ACTION consortium which is supported by funding from the European Union Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement no. 602768. FT12: Data collection has been supported by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (grants AA-12502, AA-00145, and AA-09203 to RJR) and the Academy of Finland (grants 100499, 205585, 118555, 141054 and 264146 to JK). JK has been supported by the Academy of Finland (grants 308248, 312073). GENR: This work was supported by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO-grant 016.VICI.170.200) to HT, and the Sophia Children’s Hospital Research Foundation (research fellowship grant 921) to KB. Super computing resources were made possible through the NWO Physical Sciences Division (surfsara.nl). The first phase of the Generation R Study is made possible by financial support from the Erasmus Medical Centre, Rotterdam; the Erasmus University Rotterdam; The Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development (ZonMw). NTR: Data collection in the NTR was funded by the Netherlands Organization for Science (NWO): Twin-family database for behavior genetics and genomics studies (NWO-480-04-004); Gravitation program of the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science and the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO-024.001.003). ‘Longitudinal data collection from teachers of Dutch twins and their siblings’ (NWO-481-08-011); ‘Twin-family study of individual differences in school achievement’ (NWO-056-32-010); ZonMW “Genetic influences on stability and change in psychopathology from childhood to young adulthood” (NWO-912-10-020); “Netherlands Twin Registry Repository” (NWO-480-15-001/674). DIB would like to acknowledge the KNAW Academy Professor Award (PAH/6635). TEDS: TEDS is supported by a program grant to RP from the UK Medical Research Council (MR/M021475/1). No funders had any involvement in the conduct of this research, including in the study design, data collection, analysis and interpretation of the data, the writing of the report, and the decision to submit to the article for publication. ...
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