A study in the journal Child Development suggests one possible role for teachers in curbing classroom aggression.
Researchers studied genetic and environmental influences on aggressive behavior in 217 pairs of fraternal and identical twins in 1st grade classrooms in Montreal. They zeroed in on pairs educated in separate classrooms in order to disentangle genetic effects from environmental influences. Children’s aggressiveness was based on peer ratings.
The study found that children genetically disposed to be aggressive—because they or a sibling behaved that way—were more likely to be bullied by peers. But these pupils were less likely to be victimized by classmates or to behave aggressively themselves when they had a good relationship with their teachers. Researchers said the positive relationship may garner these children more sympathy and support from classmates.
A version of this article appeared in the November 02, 2011 edition of Education Week as Classroom Aggression