Anger expression among students

Anger expression among students

Most schools today have embarked on various safety measures such as installation of security surveillance systems, constant interaction with law enforcement authorities, strong policies against bullying, sexual abuse and crimes against children, and other measures to curb acts of violence against and among school children. These measures will, surely caution parents and students to be aware of the realities and thus, lower the rates of violence in the schools.

However, the number and severity of school violence, aggression and destructive acts of anger continue to loom large on the corridors of today’s schools. In addition, a good number of students are faced with a sense of fear, abuse, anxiety and depression. Even though school violence is a very complicated issue with many different reasons pointing to it, one significant aspect, however, is its relationship with uncontrolled anger. Researchers have identified anger as a possible cause for violence and aggression among school children.

Students who experience high anger during school days may later run the risk of involving in violence and crimes. Often, anger acts like a motivator for aggressive behaviour and violence. An in-depth understanding of anger will help teachers and parents to assist students to express their anger constructively.

Nature of Anger

Over the last 50 years, researchers have assigned different labels to the construct of anger to explain different modes of anger. Spielberger (1988) introduced two facets of anger as state and trait anger. State anger is a psychobiological subjective state of anger that varies in intensity over time; that is, the intensity of anger in a particular time. We come across students who experience intense anger during games, classroom discussions and sports. These students experience state anger in that specific situation. Intensity of experiencing anger can vary from student to student, and situation to situation.

On the other hand, trait anger is the “general inclination to experience and express anger without specific provocation”. These students are angry not in one or two situations, but often they are found angry and reactive. It’s more of cognitive and seen as a personality trait. They perceive a wide variety of situations as negative and connected, rather than perceiving them separately. High trait anger students involve in constant aggressive acts and bullying. They also experience high intensity of anger on a continues level.

Anger expressions are very different in each student. Some prefer to be silent and passive during provocative situations which is known as anger-In, wherein the frequency of angry feelings are held in or suppressed. Very often anger suppressions result in depression, anxiety, asthma, hypertension and high blood pressure. Anger suppressors usually are very submissive and don’t react immediately, but their noiseless reaction harms them silently. They usually appear as good students and non-threatening to teachers and parents.

Another way of anger expression is anger-Out; this refers to expressing anger toward other people or objects. This often results in violence, aggression, attack, sarcasm, contempt, domestic violence, child abuse, road rage and so on. Students who use anger-out expressions are a nightmare to parents and teachers. They damage private and public property. These students are very often labelled as aggressors, and lack good interpersonal skills. They lack anger control and don’t use cognitive behavioural strategies in comparison to students who have high anger control.

Furthermore, some students have good anger control and they are able to express their emotion of anger in a more assertive way. They are able to stand up for their rights in an integral manner and help others understand their need through constructive expressions of anger. They have a reduced amount of disease, high blood pressure, drop out and academic failure.

If the parents and teachers can understand the images, thoughts and attributions of students during provocative situations, then students can be helped to express anger constructively. Whether a student suppress, express or control anger, the cognitive interpretations during provocative events are the major causes for anger which is formed and influenced by the following factors:

Personal factors

This can include the biological composition, anger experiences, anger related memories and images, and personality traits. Students who have excessive excitatory nerve cells will show high intensity of anger as compared to students who have lower rates of excitatory cell function. Similarly, students who have aggressive parents, experienced threats and severe punishment from teachers, may have vivid memories of anger and revenge. They have the tendency to generalise their anger to past events, situations and memories.

Anger related thoughts and memories include anger events, people, or situations. Students who have experienced hurt, rejection, pain and frustration may form negative belief and attributions regarding others, situations and the world around them. Thus, this belief can trigger and increase the intensity of anger in day to day life. Students with low self-esteem personalities, less resiliency, low intrinsic motivation and high dependent personalities are more prone to experience intense anger.

Family atmosphere

Students learn most of their anger behavioural pattern from family as it is the cradle of behaviour formation for every student. Students who had to face family conflict, abuse and divorce are more predisposed to use aggressive behaviour during provocative situations. Students who have not experienced the intimate relationship with parents are also at risk of experiencing intense anger, and use more aggressive behaviour.

Dysfunctional family environments, stress and tension of parents, lack of love and care, parental psychopathology are also contributors of anger and aggression in students. Students from these families experience lot of pain and rejection which make them react to everyone around them with uncontrollable anger. Because anger is only a secondary emotion as pain is considered the primary emotion.

Social factors

Teacher and peer relationships, media influence, social settings and school atmosphere can also encourage anger thoughts and behaviour in students. Teachers who are considered as role models for students can also sometimes trigger intense anger in students through abusive language,physical punishment and showing favouritism in classroom atmosphere. Negative peer interactions may increase the level of anger in students.

Negative peer relations and gang behaviours are very often the cause for bullying, aggression, and violence which sometimes ends in fatalities. Students may be placed at risk of anger if academic failure or a lack of academic competence is experienced. Academic letdown may amplify feelings of negative response or non-acceptance and, as a result, influence the possibility of an angry thought and emotional state.

Students perceive anger as a self-protective device in families and schools due to their past histories and beliefs. Their angry behaviours are unintentionally reinforced and are also encouraged by their parents, teachers, peers and now through posting various comments on social media.

Parents, teachers and peers who cultivate a harmonious relationship may discourage angry and aggressive interactions with others and motivate them to resolve conflict in a more
assertive manner.

Finally, remember that anger in itself is neither positive nor negative, but, students need assistance in reducing or redirecting their anger for better physical, psychological and academic achievements.

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