How to cite this article:Tadele Fayso. Aggressive Behaviour in Secondary Schools of Mesken Woreda: Types, Magnitude and Associated Factors. Psychol Behav Sci Int J. 2019; 10(5): 555800. DOI: 10.19080/PBSIJ.2019.10.555800
Manifestation of aggressive behavior is one of the major problems associated with adolescents in the secondary schools today. The pervading incidence of aggressive behavior among secondary school students is alarming. Eziyi & Odoemelam  revealed that aggressive behavior is “one of the most frustrating issues parents and teachers face, and that is normal in young children who do not yet understand that it is wrong and more importantly why it is wrong”. Obviously, some adolescents in the secondary schools exhibit one form of aggressive behavior or the other.
Though behavioral problems in schools take different forms; truancy, tardiness, insubordination, profanity; vandalism and aggression are worth to be mentioned. The causes for such behaviors are many in number. In addition to biological factors, the causes for misbehaving reside on parental rejection, poverty, viewing violence in the media, peers and gang influence and the frustration
that accompanies low scholastic . From the behavioral problems, aggression in schools needs special attention since it affects student’s proper development substantially in their schooling and later in life. Beck  indicates that children who are aggressive at early ages tend to show delinquent behavior during adulthood than those children who were not aggressive. In addition, students who were aggressive tend to score low in their academic achievement than those students who were not aggressive and tend to be poor in communication with their peer and teachers.
Although the word ‘aggression’ is both recognized and understood in the common usage of the term  it is used so broadly that it becomes virtually impossible to formulate a single and comprehensive definition. Despite the enormous literature on the topic, and the continuous effort shown by scholars dedicated to the scientific study of aggression, there is still considerable disagreement about its precise meaning and causes, with no singular
or even preferred definition. Far from being a term describing a
singular dimension, ‘aggression’ consists of several phenomena
which may be similar in appearance but have separate genetic
and neural control mechanisms, show diverse phenomenological
manifestations, have different functions and antecedents,
and are instigated by different external circumstances, Ramirez
(1996,1998,2000). Further, an insufficient differentiation with
other similar constructs, such as violence, antisocial behavior, or
delinquency, makes the task of its definition even harder.
Aggressive behavior has been defined by experts in educational
psychology in various ways. Wood et al.  defined it as “the
intentional infliction of physical or psychological harm on others”.
From this definition, it is obvious that for an act to be classified as
an aggressive behavior, the infliction of physical or psychological
harm on others must be intentional. Hence, unintended and accidental
infliction of harm on others may not be rightly classified
as aggressive behavior. Aggressive behavior among adolescents in
secondary schools takes various forms. It can be physical or verbal.
Physical aggression refers to inflicting injury on others, while
verbal aggression entails using words that are intended to harm
Aggressive behavior among adolescents in secondary schools
sometimes takes the form of an over-reaction, screaming, shouting
or becoming very agitated as a result of a very minor setback
. It also takes the form of quarrelling, insubordination, bullying,
revolution, destruction of school property, protest, angry
shouts of rebellion etc. It appears that students’ aggressive behavior
stems from different factors. It can be traced to learners’
family backgrounds, community, school and value systems. If the
learner is unstable due to the above factors, he/she may suddenly
display deviant behavior, tends to be emotionally disturbed and
exhibits destructive tendencies. Theories of aggression suggest
that aggression is acquired through a process of trial and error,
instructing, and observation of models. The aggressive behavior
is affected by reinforcement, the past experiences of the person,
the social environment or social milieu, and one’s personality .
Aggressions in schools revealed in different types and violence
is one of the most prevalent and destructive behavior that adolescents
face today, because they are risk of being either the victim
or the committer of an act of violence, Marguire & Pastore (1998).
In addition, early intervention with student who displays aggressive
behavior is important because they are at substantial risk for
future violent behavior delinquency and school withdrawal, Eron
(1987), Kupersmidt & Coie, 1990). Scholars also identified some
techniques that enable to minimize aggressive behaviors .
Though studies were made by Amogne Asfaw  which examined
magnitude of disciplinary problem in Ethio-Japan Hidasse
secondary school and another study made by Kinde Getachew &
Mekonnen Sintayehu  which investigated types, magnitude,
predictors and controlling mechanisms of aggression in secondary
schools of Jimma zone. The present researcher strongly believes that more research needs to be conducted in the areas of
behavioral problems as the problems are extensive, vary in nature
and only little has been accomplished so far. On this premise, this
study will attempt to investigate the types of aggression, its magnitude,
predictors of aggression and methods that teachers use/
employ to control aggression in secondary schools of Meskan
woreda of the Guraghe zone.
The importance of developing positive interpersonal skills is
considered essential to our society [10,11]. Prior studies examined
the different forms of aggressions in schools. According to
Bjorkvist et. al  these are physical, verbal and indirect aggression.
Various factors were repeatedly mentioned in the literature
as associated factors of aggression. These factors among others,
were attributable to biological factors, socio demographic variables,
parenting styles, personality and viewing violent films .
Scholars also identified some techniques that enable to minimize
aggressive behaviors .
The current researcher has lived for more than ten years in
Meskan woreda and during his stay in the woreda, it was very
usual for him to hear about prominent aggressive behaviors like
talking nasty words, teasing, threatening, disobeying school regulation,
quarreling with and criticizing teachers among adolescent
in secondary schools. However, there is no empirical evidence
presented so far in the woreda to inform the school community
about the types of aggression, magnitude, predictors and mechanisms
teachers use to control aggression. This trend, as a social
observation, is alarming and suggests the need for studies aimed
at exploring the types of aggression, magnitude of aggression,
predictors of aggression and methods that teachers practice controlling
aggressions in secondary schools of Meskan woreda.
The overall purpose of the study was to explore the types of
aggression, magnitude of aggression, predictors of aggression and
methods that teachers use to control aggressions in secondary
schools of Meskan woreda. More specifically it is aimed at,
i. Indicating the types of aggressions that are commonly observed
among adolescent in secondary schools of Meskan
ii. Determining the magnitude of each type of aggression among
adolescents in secondary schools of Meskan woreda
iii. Investigating the relative importance of some socio demographic
variables such as sex, grade level, school setting and
scores on perceived parenting (warmth/love and control/
demanding) as predictor of aggression among adolescents in
secondary schools of Meskan woreda
iv. Exploring the mechanisms that teachers use to control aggression
among adolescents in secondary schools of Meskan
Since the objective of this study was to explore the types of,
magnitude and predictors of aggression, as well as the methods
that teachers use to control aggressions; the study involves different
groups (teachers and students) and the nature of the research
questions requires use of both quantitative as well as qualitative
data with more weight to quantitative data and the data were collected
and analyzed at the same time. For these reasons the study
design was concurrent nested design and the qualitative data was
nested to quantitative data.
Source of data were students, teachers and principals of Enseno
and Koto secondary schools of Meskan woreda. The population
of the study was 1875 students attending secondary education in
six secondary schools of Meskan woreda of the Guraghe zone in
2014/15 academic year.
Meskan is one of the woredas in the Southern Nations, Nationalities,
and Peoples’ Region of Ethiopia. This woreda is named
after the Meskan speaking Gurage people. Part of the Gurage Zone,
Meskan is bordered on the south by the Silt’e Zone, on the west by
Muhor Aklil, on the northwest by Kokir Gedebano, on the north by
the Oromia Region, on the northeast by Sodo, and on the southeast
by Mareko. Towns in Meskan include Enseno. Based on the
2007 Census conducted by the CSA, this woreda has a total population
of 155,782, of whom 76,396 were men and 79,386 women;
11,388 or 7.31% of its population are urban dwellers. Most of
the inhabitants were reported to be Muslim, with 60.19% of the
population reporting that belief, while 34.55% practice Ethiopian
Orthodox Christianity, and 4.7% were Protestants . Data
received from Meskan woreda education office shows that the
woreda had accommodated 1875 students (1256 or 67% male
and 619 or 33% female) in six secondary schools in 2014/15 academic
year. Among the students; 815 or 43.5 % were grade nine
and 1060 or 56.5 were grade ten students.
Since the target student population in the six secondary
schools were 1875 (1256 male and 619 female); the sample size
(SS) was determined considering 95% confidence level (α= 0.05),
and prevalence (percentage of population) 50% and first using a
formula for infinite Population (Godden, 2004).
And then adjusted to new Sample size (SS) for finite number
of population (where the population is less than 50,000) using the
formula derived from the first step.
Finally adding 10 % of 320 for design effect a sample size
equals to 352 were considered for the study. Where, SS = Sample
Size Z = Z-value (1.96 for a 95% confidence level), P=prevalence (Percentage of population expressed as decimal), C = Confidence
interval (α), expressed as decimal.
In order to select the participants, multistage stratified random
sampling method was used. As a result, Koto and Enseno
secondary schools were selected from rural and urban schools
respectively. At the second stage, grade level and sex were considered
as other strata and all students of grade nine and ten of
the selected schools were considered as a sampling frame for the
study. The sample size (n=352) was selected with proportional
weight to populations in each stratum (school setting, grade level
and sex). The individual participant from each grade level and sex
was selected using simple random method.
In addition, focus group discussion participants were randomly
selected among school principals, vice principals and teachers
who were engaged in teaching grades nine and ten and focused
group discussions were conducted at each school regarding aggression
controlling mechanisms that teachers use in their respective
schools. The Direct and Indirect Aggression Scales [DIAS]
 is a twenty-four-item instrument designed to measure three
types of aggression: physical, verbal, and indirect.
There are seven items that measure physical aggression, five
items related to verbal aggression, and twelve items regarding
indirect aggression. The DIAS questionnaire is administered in
groups (i.e., to each student in a class). Children and adolescents
above ten years of age can complete the DIAS using paper and
pencil, while younger children must be interviewed. The DIAS
may be used in different forms (e.g., victim version and aggressor
version) and for different purposes: for peer estimations, teacher
estimations, and self-estimations. The aggressor version was used
in the present study to measure aggressive behavior among adolescents
in secondary schools of Meskan woreda. Items on the aggressor
version of the instrument for the purposes of the present
study include directions that instruct participants to answer how
“you act when you have problems or get angry with each other”.
Items include (1) Yell at or argue with the person I’m angry with,
(2) Become friends with another person as a kind of revenge.
The original investigation of the DIAS was administered to
2,094 children ages eight, eleven, and fifteen in Turkey, Finland,
Poland, Rome, and Chicago. Reliability for the subscales was reported
in terms of internal consistency ranging from 0.78 to 0.96
Björkqvist . Validity has been established in multiple studies
[13-17] that used the DIAS to examine overt and relational aggression
in children and adolescents, as well as correlating the subscale
and total scores with the self, peer, and teacher ratings.
An investigation conducted by Pakaslahti and Keltikangas-
Jarvinen  examined the relationships between peer nomination,
teacher ratings, and self-report of direct and indirect
aggression using the DIAS. Pakaslahti and Keltikangas-Jarvinen
 report that the correlation (Pearson’s) between the scales
was 0.58 (p < 0.001) for peer nominations of direct and indirect aggression, while reliability for the direct aggression scale was
Cronbach’s Alpha = 0.76. The teacher rating of aggressive behavior
reports that the correlation (Pearson’s r) between the direct
and indirect aggression scales was 0.57 (p < 0.001), while reliability
for direct aggression scale was Cronbach’s Alpha = 0.72.
The self-rating portion of the study reported that the correlation
(Pearson’s r) between the scales was 0.65 (p < 0.001), while the
reliabilities reported were Cronbach’s Alpha = 0.81 and 0.70, for
direct aggression and indirect aggression, respectively .
In order to measure parenting style 35 items which were
adopted  from various sources, Dornbusch et.al., (1987);
Baumrind & Black (1967) Becker, et al. (1962), Becker & Krug
(1964); Schaefer (1965) was used. As indicated by the adopters
,the items on parenting styles required students to rate their parents
in terms of the two dimensions of parenting styles, namely
the warmth/love dimension and the control/ demandingness dimension.
The warmth / love subscale consisted of eighteen items
related to parental warmth, acceptance, and closeness to youngsters.
This subscale measures the extent to which the student perceives
his / her parents as loving, responsive, and warm.
The control/demandingness subscale consisted of seventeen
items assessing parental monitoring and limit setting as well as
parental pressure and encouragements toward high achievements.
As reported by the adopters the items in the adopted
scales were rated by two instructors from the Department of Educational
psychology at Addis Ababa University regarding their appropriateness
to the children and parents in the Ethiopian context
the inter judge reliability index (Pearson r) was 0.93. Besides the
items were administered to 152 students (Males = 76) from four
towns (Ambo, Butajira, Debre Berhan & Harrar) of Ethiopia. The
(Cronbach alpha) reliabilities were 0.91 and 0.89 for the warmth/
love and control/ demandingness dimensions respectively .
Focus group discussion(FGD) guide consists of eight items and
developed by the researcher was used to collect relevant qualitative
information from school principals and teachers regarding
prevalence of aggression in general and controlling mechanisms
of aggression in particular. The data collection instruments were
piloted on 47 (25 male and 22 female) grade nine and ten students
in Mekicho Secondary School. In order to ensure face/translation
validity, forward and backward translation into Amharic (local
language) and English were made by two independent language
experts and wording clarity and consistency were checked together
with the principal researcher. After collecting the data, the data
were checked for consistency and errors double entered in Microsoft
Excel Sheet and validated.
A clean database was generated, copied into SPSS (version
20.0) and all negatively worded items were reverted and then the
whole data were computed using SPSS (version 20.0). Normality
test was checked using histogram and found to be approximately
normal. Internal consistency was cheeked using Cronbach alpha
reliability coefficients and the Cronbach alpha reliability’s were 0.77 and 0.82 for direct and indirect aggression scales; whereas
they were 0.71 and 0.89 for perceived warmth/love and control/
demandingness scales respectively.
The reliability index was compared with the previous finding
of the developer for Direct aggression and indirect aggression
(Cronbach’s Alpha = 0.81 and 0.70); and adopters for perceived
warmth/love and control/ demandingness (Cronbach alpha reliability’s
0.91 and 0.89) as mentioned above and the results were
found to be quite similar.
The sources of primary data for the main study were all students
and teachers selected from of Koto and Enseno secondary
schools. After getting consent from woreda education office and
the directors of Koto and Enseno secondary school; data for the
main study were collected in three days (from 28 - 30 May 2015)
and the questionnaire was administered to the participants in a
specified room. Focus group discussion was one hour long and
was conducted in each school with twelve and eight teachers of
Koto and Enseno secondary schools respectively. The FGD was facilitated
by the researcher and tape recorded.
Frequency distribution of the study population according to
school setting, grade level and sex were analyzed in order to understand
the nature of the sampled data. Mean and standard deviation
were computed to understand the prevalence of the three
different types of aggression. Independent sample t-test was computed,
and normality assumption was checked using histogram.
Association of aggression scores with sex, grade level school setting
and perceived parenting warmth/love and control/demanding
were computed using Point-biserial and Pearson product-moment
correlation. Only significantly associated variables were
considered for further stepwise linear regression analysis. The
data were first examined if they meet statistical assumptions of
the model: normality, independence of errors, linearity, homoscedasticity
and collinearity using histogram, Durbin–Watson test,
scatter plotting, residual plotting and inter-correlation matrix respectively.
All the assumptions were fulfilled.
The qualitative data collected through FGD were transcribed
and data analysis was carried out using thematic analysis. The information
was categorized using different themes as methods of
aggression controlling mechanisms. Finally, based on the analysis,
the major types of aggression controlling mechanisms practiced
in secondary schools were identified and used to answer the
fourth research question.
The results of the study were presented in three sections including
the demographic characteristics of the sample, data analyses
of each research question and a summary of the findings.
(Table 1) above describes socio-demographic characteristics of
the study respondents. The study respondents comprised 236 males (67.0 %) and 116 females (33.0%); Majority of the study
population belonged to urban (257; 73%) and the rest belongs
to rural (95; 27.0 %). Whereas (199; 56.5%) were grade ten and
(153; 27.0%) were grade nine students.
The data presented in Table 2 show that the three forms of
aggression were observed in secondary students of Meskan woreda
at different level. Indirect and verbal aggression was relatively
the most prominent. Similarly, the teachers and principals in
both Enseno and Koto schools have reported that the three types
of aggressions are fairly observed among the students. To determine
whether the observed magnitudes in each form of aggression
was significantly different from the hypothesized population
mean or not, a one sample t-test was employed. Table 3 above indicates
that significant mean differences were observed between
the hypothesized population means for each form of aggression
and the sample mean of indirect aggression (M = 0.640, SD =
0.513), t(351) = -49.70 , p = .000, verbal aggression (M = 0.558,
SD = 0.603), t(351) = -44.87, p = .000 and physical aggression (M
=0.351, SD = 0.489), t(351) = -63.18 , p = .000. The third objective
of the research was investigating the relative importance of some
variables such as sex, age, grade level, school setting; perceived
parenting warmth/love scores and control/demanding scores as predictor of aggression among adolescents in secondary schools
of Meskan woreda. To meet this objective, linear regression analysis
was conducted. First, correlation matrix was computed using
point biserial correlation and Pearson product-moment correlation
based on scale of measurement and then, only variables those
significantly correlated with the independent variables fitted in
to the model of stepwise linear regression analysis to test their
prediction powers of aggression (Table 4).
The correlation coefficient among the dependent variable
(aggression) and the independent variables sex (male coded 0, female
coded 1), grade level (9th grade students coded 0, 10th grade
students coded 1), school setting (Rural coded 0, urban coded 1)
and scores on perceived parental warmth/love and control/demanding) scores reveled that school setting, age, grade level and
scores on the measure of perceived parental warmth/love significantly
negatively related with aggression. Subsequently, linear regression
analysis was conducted to determine significant predictors
of aggression taking only significantly correlated variables.
As (Table 5) shows, the linear regression analysis reveals that only
school setting, age and scores on the measure of perceived parental
warmth/love found to be significant predicators of aggression.
Together, the four independent variables have explained 12.8% of
the variance in aggression (F (3, 348) = 18.123, P = .000). This
indicates that the variability in aggression is only partly explained
by the predictor variables.
Regarding Control mechanisms of aggression; the FGD participants
in both Koto and Enseno schools have reported nearly
similar control mechanisms. The responses are listed below in descending
order of how often a certain method was used by the selected
teachers and principals. Advising, handing over the wrong
doer to discipline committee, consulting with parents, expelling
from class and Suspending /dismissing from the school were reported
in both schools.
According to the findings of the study three forms of aggression
namely indirect, verbal and physical were observed among
adolescent in secondary school of Meskan woreda. Regarding the
magnitude of aggression, the findings indicate that adolescent
in secondary school of Meskan woreda scored relatively high on
the measure of indirect aggression followed by verbal aggression
and physical aggression. However, as the data shows the students
reported low level of indirect, verbal and physical aggression as
compared to the theorized population mean (i.e. 2.0) in each form
of aggression. The FGD participants in both schools have also confirmed
that all forms of aggregations are prevalent at different
magnitudes. This finding is consistent with the findings of other
researchers in in secondary schools of Jimma zone.
In the cross-sectional study that investigated the types of aggression,
magnitude of aggression, predictors of aggression, and
methods that teachers use to control aggressions in secondary
schools of Jimma zone, et al.  found that physical aggression,
verbal aggression, and indirect aggression were evident among
adolescents in secondary schools of Jimma zone but with different
magnitude. As the FGD participants in both schools (Koto and Enseno)
disclosed “it is common to hear grade nine and ten students
of the target schools talking nasty words, teasing, threatening,
disobeying school regulation and criticizing teachers such forms
of behaviors are communicable and could poison other students
and will be intensified among the secondary schools of Meskan
As cited by Kinde Getachew and Mekonnen Sintayehu  the
other justification lies on the ability of grade nine and ten students
to express aggression through indirect and verbal means as their
recent stage is characterized by greater development in language usage and thinking ability. The developments in these areas could
shift physical type of aggression to indirect and verbal aggression
, explained when verbal skills develop, verbal means of aggression
tend to replace physical ones whenever possible. For the
indirect aggression, their justifications reside on the development
of social skills. They noted that as social skills develop, even more
sophisticated strategies of aggression are made possible, with the
aggressor being able to harm a target without even being identified.
Based on the magnitude and sign (-) of correlation coefficient
among the dependent variable (aggression) and the independent
variables; the finding implies that 10th grade students displayed
less aggressive behavior than 9th grade students whereas urban
school (Enseno) students displayed more aggression than rural
(Koto) school students and as the age of the student increases aggression
decrease. Students who scored high on both measures
of perceived parental warmth/love and control/demanding are
manifesting low level of aggression. The linear regression analysis
reveals that school setting, age, grade level and scores on the measure
of perceived parental warmth/love found to be significant
predicators of aggression
A large body of researchers relates perceived warmth /love
parenting with children pro-social behavior. For instance, parents
who are accepting, warmer, and helpful will have children that
are less involved in antisocial behavior. Another research finding
also state that family interaction patterns and parental discipline
practices strongly affect the development of aggressive behavior
in children . In the other hand several researches have also
shown the importance of sex in predicting physical aggression
[21-30]. These findings have not supported the present study. The
possible reasons will be the effect might be masked due to social
desirability biases [31-40].
It was also found that teachers in the selected secondary
schools have not practiced the proper way of handling aggressiveness.
As they responded, they advise students and take some
forms of disciplinary measures. It is not clear that what type of
advice they offer to the aggressors and there were no well-established
counseling and guidance mechanisms [41-45]. Current
researches, however, have indicated some forms of effective techniques
of handling aggression. As Grohol  indicated the most
effective programs are those that help students to learn key social
skills such as listening, thinking about the feelings of others,
working cooperatively and being assertive in constructive ways.
Grohol  also noted that most aggressive children are choosing
to use that behavior because they don’t have the skills to achieve
what they wish to achieve any other way [46-50].
Based on the summary of the findings indicated above, the researcher
draws the following conclusions, and their corresponding
i. The result of the current study showed that physical aggression,
verbal aggression and indirect aggression were evident
among adolescent in secondary schools of Meskan woreda.
Specifically, students showed greater indirect aggression followed
by verbal and physical ones, but all the three forms of
aggression were found to be low [51-56].
ii. The findings also indicated that school setting, age, grade level
and scores on the measure of perceived parental warmth/
love found to be significant predicators of aggression. On the
other hand, sex and scores on the measure of perceived parental
control/demanding did not predict aggression significantly.
iii. The result also revealed that the methods that teachers used
to control aggression among adolescent in secondary schools
of Meskan woreda. They mentioned various methods which
includes both positive and negative reinforcements. Among
others, advising was used by almost all teachers in conjunction
with handing over the aggressor to discipline committee
and taking the necessary measures in accordance with
the regulation of the discipline committee. This implies that
most teachers and principals practice positive reinforcement
mechanisms more frequently to shape the behavior of the
This research explored the various types and magnitude of
aggression that were prevalent among adolescents in secondary
schools of Meskan woreda. It also pinpointed some of the variables
those predict aggression and the methods that teachers
practice controlling aggression. In the light of these findings, the
following recommendations are forwarded.
i. Parents should be aware to be affectionate, accepting and
helpful for their children and schools should have regular
parent awareness programs based on their experiences and
ii. Teacher and principals should be aware about the correct
way of handling aggressive behaviors and there should be
consistent reinforcement mechanisms.
iii. Future researches should consider other variables like parental
income, out of school engagements like viewing violent
films, personality and the four typology of parenting
styles to test in what way these variables predict the various
types of aggressions