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This study investigated Gender and parenting styles as predictors of antisocial behavior among secondary school students. Two hundred and thirty-one (231) participants comprising 122 males and 109 females participated in the study. Participants were randomly selected from 3 secondary schools. Their ages ranged between 10 to 20 years with a mean age of 15.22 years (SD = 2.24). Two hypotheses were formulated for this study. Cross sectional design was adopted. Regression result indicated that Gender (β = -.29, p< .001) predicted antisocial behavior of secondary school students. Among the dimensions of parenting style only authoritarian parenting style (β = .24, p< .05) and permissive parenting (β = .10, p < .05) significantly predict antisocial behavior among secondary school students. Implications of the study were stated, and suggestions made for further studies.



Background of the Study

Antisocial behavior is ubiquitous. Its degree differs across cultures and societies. It is the recognized violation of cultural norms. Norms guide virtually all human activities, so the concept of antisocial behavior is quite broad, (Macionis, 2000). It spans a wide range from minor traffic violation to serious offences, such as rape and murder. Over the years, antisocial behavior seems to have assumed gargantuan dimensions. The very existence of some categories of people can be troublesome to others. Most familiar examples of non-conformity are negative cases of rule breaking such as stealing from a convenience store, or driving while intoxicated. Antisocial behavior, which is defined as behavior that violates social norms and the rights of others (Burt, 2012), constitutes an important problem in adolescence. What all antisocial behaviors have in common is some elements of indifference that cause one to regard another as outsiders (Beker, 1966).

Antisocial behavior include, but are not limited to the following: armed robbery, theft, rape, cultism, corruption, examination malpractice, malpractice in banks, advance fee fraud, money laundering, lying, sexual promiscuity, assault and cruelty to others, physical and verbal abuse. No nation, no matter how developed is immune to the menace of antisocial behavior. In fact, some of the countries most vulnerable to or have more sophisticated types of antisocial behavior are the developed countries. Nigeria like many other countries is equally affected by this phenomenon. The country had enough resources in her treasury to prosecute ambitious socio-economic developments and sustain our collective dreams as a nation. But all these were not to be as the national economy has taken a plunge, unemployment is a staggering reality, armed robbery and crime wave across the country is a clear manifestation of the depth of moral decay (Braithwaith, 1988).

A great number of students are involved in behaviors that are viewed as antisocial. Breaking school rules, fighting, truancy, missing classes, stealing, verbal abuse of both teachers and fellow students, secret cultism and gangsterism are some of the practices that are common place in the school and among the students. The incidence of adolescents in the Senior Secondary School, beating up their teachers and destroying school properties at the end of their Senior Secondary School Examination, getting more and more involved in sexual relationships at such young age, undermining the authorities of their parents or guardian beats my imagination. Are there situational and environmental factors that cause this antisocial behavior? Why would a student leave her home for school but prefer to stay outside the classroom? Is there something common in the lives of these students who involve in this kind of behavior? What is the place of their parents in all these? Don’t their parents check their school work? How do they relate to their parents? Why would young girls be involved in such behavior when it is mainly boys that are believed to have such inclination? All these questions precipitated this study. The solution to the problem of antisocial behavior and other social problems in Nigeria have been sought in so many ways such as constitutional amendment, national orientation programmes, redesigning of the school curriculum and programme etc. But the researcher felt that the answer may lie in another field – parenting styles, since the behavior of individuals stem from orientation (Bandura, 1986).

What then is parenting style? Parenting style can be very simply defined as how a person parents (Horner, 2000), which includes the mode of interaction between the person (as father or mother or guardian) and his/her children. There are three distinct parenting styles: authoritarian, permissive,and  authoritative parenting styles (Baumrind, 1991). These three parenting styles are determined by what emphasis a parent puts on responsiveness (amount of warmth and attention the parent gives to the child) and demandingness (how much control the parent places on the childs behavior). According to (Baumrind, 1991), authoritarian parents have high demandingness but low responsiveness. These parents are very demanding, uncompromising, and physical. They set strict rules, and expect complete obedience from their children. Permissive Parents have high responsiveness but low demandingness. These parents want their children to be creative and to explore the world to such an extent that they never place any kind of limits on their children. Authoritative parents have both high demandingness and high responsiveness. These parents set high goals for their children, and give large amounts of emotional support. They set limits for their children, but provide explanations as to why they should do so. Cole & Cole (1989) opined that adolescents with authoritative parents tend to be withdrawn, moody, obedient, fearful of new situations and have low self esteem. They also have trouble socializing with others. He also stated that adolescents with permissive parents tend to be more creative, but are behaviorally and verbally impulsive, aggressive and have trouble dealing with school imposed limits. They also believe that their parents do not care about them or how they behave. Adolescents with authoritative parents are likely to foster a positive development. They have high self esteem, are socially confident, inquisitive, self-assured and self-reliant, they also have high respect for their parents, (Cole & cloe 1989).

Barber, Stolz, Osten and Maughan (2003) found that parental psychological control has a positive relationship with adolescent antisocial behavior and that parental behavior control has a negative relationship with adolescent antisocial behaviour (See also Gillet, 2006). Psychological control means the social support which the child receives from the parents. It includes maternal or paternal protection, over-pampering and most times, allowing the child to have his or her way in issues even when the parents do not share the view of the young person. Behavioral control on the other hand means the parents can criticize, punish, scold or in some cases flog the child to get him to comply. Investigating the dimensions of parenting both as separate variables and in the aggregated form as parenting styles, highlights their consistent association with greater academic and social achievement and fewer problem behaviors in children and adolescents (Barber, Olsen & Shagle, 1994). Unfortunately, their relationship is still somewhat unclear due to the fact that gender variables have not deeply been considered. Certainly, gender is the additional variable that will be considered in this study because of its strong ties to empathy and prosocial versus antisocial behavior in the literature.         Thus, it has been repeatedly found that females score higher than males on measures of empathy (Krevans & Gibbs, 1996; Lopez, Bonenberger & Schneider, 2001) and lower on levels of antisocial behavior (Calvo, Gonzalez & Martorell, 2001). The question is therefore, what is the contribution of gender identity in antisocial behavior when parenting styles are taken into consideration?

Gender has been implicated as a factor that has influence on the development of pro-social or antisocial behaviour in adolescents. Sex stereo-type manifestation of antisocial behaviour traits is common in our society. Boys by their very nature exhibit [More physical, verbal aggression and thuggery while antisocial behaviour in girls is more subtle, indirect and relational involving harmful manipulation of others. Besides, there is more involvement of boys than girls in such antisocial behaviours as stealing, kidnapping, rape, fighting and violence. More girls than boys participate in such antisocial behaviours like prostitution, lesbianism, frequent running away from home, hedonism, child theft and child trafficking. Antisocial personality disorder was diagnosed in approximately 3% of male and 1% of female adolescent in the United State of America (American Psychiatric Associate, 1998).        American Psychiatric Association (1998) also asserted that the incident of conduct disorder appeared to have increased in USA over the preceding decade and might be as high as 6 to 16% in males under 18 years and 2 to 9% in females under 18 years. Manie (1998) also reported that the likelihood of boys to develop conduct disorder was four to eight times greater than for girls. However, Kazdin (1987) reported that conduct disorder was more common among boys than girls and that sex differences further affected the age of onset of conduct disorder. Girls tended to engage in conduct disorder starting between ages 14 and 16, whereas, many boys engaged in conduct disorder at the age of 11 years.      

Statement of the Problem

          Hall (1904) viewed adolescence as a period of storm and stress. “Adolescence is a new birth”, he wrote … “the qualities of body and soul that now emerge are far newer. Development is less gradual and more salutary, suggestive of some ancient period of storm and stress when old moorings were broken and a higher level attained” (p.xiii). The new birth leads the adolescent to want to get away, to conquer new territory. At this point also adult laws and behaviors are questioned and criticized, strict family rules are defiled, and child-parent disputes are at increase. Baumrind (1978); Lamborn, Mounts, Steinberg and Dornbusch (1991) found that different parenting styles are associated with different outcomes in children’s behavior. Children of authoritarian parents tend to be less trusting and contented, and more withdrawn, than other children. Children of permissive parents tend to show the least of self-control and are also self-reliant and exploratory. The best behavioural outcomes are associated with authoritative parenting. These children are more often self-reliant, self controlled and with higher self-esteem (Buri, 1989).

Barber, Stolz, Olsen, & Maughan (2003), related an aspect of parenting to antisocial behavior. Numerous other studies (e.g. Carlo, Roesch & Melby, 1998) have related parenting with antisocial behavior. Yet the sources of antisocial behaviors seem unrevealed. It is the contention of this study that part of the answer lies in gender identity.

  1. Will gender significantly predict antisocial behavior among secondary school students?
  2. Will parenting style significantly predict antisocial behavior among secondary school students?

Purpose of Study

The major purposes of this study are as follows:

  1. To examine if parental style predicts antisocial behavior in both male and female students.
  2. To ascertain the different parental style prevalent among secondary school students.
  3. To find out if parental style predict antisocial behavior in secondary school students.

Relevance/ Significance of the Study

  1. The Study will be of good and great importance for it will help to increase the volume literature material on antisocial behavior arising from parental style. This will invariably help to motivate researcher to embark on a similar study in future.
  2. This study stands a better chance to educate researchers and in retested institutions of the remarkable difference between gender as regards antisocial behavior.
  3. This study is of a great significant for it will give a clear view and precise understanding to psychologists, readers and parents of the effects of each of the  three types of parental style (authoritative, permissive, authoritarian).

Operational Definition of Terms

Parenting Styles: Parenting style can be defined as the emotional surroundings in which a child is raised as measured by parenting styles questionnaire (PAQ) developed by Darling (1997)

Gender: This refers to male or female Senior Secondary student.

Males: these are the masculine branch of the human species found among the adolescent’s participants.

Females: these are the feminine branch of the human species found among adolescent’s participants.

Antisocial Behavior: Antisocial behavior, which is defined as behavior that violates social norms and the rights of others constitutes an important problem in adolescence as measured by antisocial behavior scale developed by Immanuel (2015).



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