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Teens Use Violence To Fit In

In a new study, Spanish researchers discovered that young people who want to be better appreciated and respected within their group are the most likely to be violent.

The investigation looked in depth at the social relationships between male and female teenagers, relational violence, and psychosocial adjustment factors such as loneliness, self-esteem and satisfaction with life.

“There is a growing interest in studying the violent behavior of teenagers in school, which can have serious consequences for the psychological and emotional adjustment of the people involved and hinders the dynamics of a school,” David Moreno Ruiz, lead author of the study and a researcher at the Pablo de Olavide University (UPO) in Seville, said.

This study, published recently in the Spanish journal Psicothema, focuses on the relationship between relational violence between teenagers, their social adjustment and their reputation.

Investigators examined how young people who long for high “reputation status,” in other words a social identity that will enable them to become part of a group and be respected, are more likely to use relational violence as a tool for achieving this objective.

Previous studies have already shown that some teenagers who are popular among their peers use relational violence in order to maintain and improve their reputation in their peer group.

“Having high self-esteem is a key aspect, because this is important in inhibiting teenagers from indulging in behavior that involves relational violence between peers at school,” explains Moreno.

The new study was carried out on 1,319 teenagers at seven schools in Valencia, and shows that teenagers whose social status is questioned by their peers and are socially rejected by their classmates, or who do not have intimate friendships, suffer from greater feelings of loneliness, low self-esteem and low levels of satisfaction with their lives.

“We must prevent the development of teenage social identities that are based on harming others, using unjustifiable tactics that are damaging to others, as is the case with relational violence. We need to draw up appropriate psycho-educational programs to prevent, diagnose and intervene in cases of such violence, in order to improve coexistence in schools,” point out the researchers.

Relational violence is a girl thing too
Although the results of studies into this type of violence and its links to gender have been contradictory, the conclusions of this research show that boys use relational violence much more, except when the violent behavior is used as a defensive response to provocation, when there is no difference between boys and girls.

However, contrary to popular belief, it is probable that girls make greater use of violence as a strategy for achieving or maintaining improved social identity within their peer group.

Relational violence is any kind of behavior designed to provoke harm within another person’s circle of friends, or to damage their perception of belonging to a group.

The experts say this causes psychological damage, as it marginalizes and isolates the victim, causing suffering that may sometimes be hard to recover from.

Source: FECYT – Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology

Teens Use Violence To Fit In

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Teens Use Violence To Fit In. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 21, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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