" (Kuperminc & Reppucci, 1996, p. 134)

The contributions of all of these factors have led the solutions for the problem into being nearly the soul responsibly of the court system rather than the family or even the school system. Judges and attorneys are now making the decisions that will lead a young person toward success or failure. Though there have been significant changes in the ways in which cases are dealt with and children are still given much more rehabilitation than adults. It is clear that violent offences are given a much more adult like treatment than non-violent.

In this context, the need is obvious for clear definitions of delinquency and clear distinctions between youths who commit violent offenses and those who do not. Without such distinctions, juvenile courts may regard juvenile offenders as existing in a swimming pool in which youths committing only minor offenses remain in the shallow end -- where treatment and rehabilitation seem possible -- whereas violent offenders are in the deep end -- where the obstacles to effective treatment seem overwhelming. (Kuperminc & Reppucci, 1996, p. 134)

It is often assumed that the severity of the violence that is occurring at home is directly correlation to the severity of the behavioral exhibition of the children affected. The fallacy of this assumption is that the correlation is direct. From this assumption of correlation, though it may be statistically so, is the assumption that children who are not "acting out" aggressively are not experiencing violence in the home. From many sources, we know that this is not necessarily the case. Clearly from the statistic above, telling of fifty percent of all marital relationships experiencing violence of some sort at some time could be seen as a clear indication that all children do not respond with "delinquent" behavior, as it is absolutely clear that fifty percent of children do not exhibit these destructive behaviors. It is also clear that statistics can be dangerous in this case when investigations of "delinquent" behavior become a direct accusatory investigation of parental behavior. Not all troubled children have troubled parents or a troubled family life. As most know psychology and behavioral responses to internalized beliefs are not so simple. The research question posed here will be an attempt to glean knowledge from those young people who do experience violence in the home but develop coping skills that lead them to different outcomes, mainly those of at least by appearance exhibition of normal developmental public behaviors.

Proposed Methods

The ways in which this research can be done are limited, yet the value of such a study would clearly necessitate an attempt to develop means for the assessment of this information. Research would be focused toward minor offenders and/or a general school population. This research would be best done among young adults who have largely gone past the statistically dangerous developmental stages for the exhibition of delinquent behavior. The ages focused upon will be those between 18 and 21. By recruiting test cases that are above the age of consent many possible human subjects issues will be avoided and concerns about fears of reprisal toward parents of underage children will be removed form the study. Additionally because the focus of the study will be to attempt to glean stories of success and therefore successful coping skills, a college campus may be the best location for the testing.

The test case will consist of a self-report interview. Test questions will focus on early - late childhood family dynamics, asking questions about frequency, duration and severity of violence in the home. Questions will also attempt to answer aspects relating to source and focus of violence in the childhood home chronologically through the years from earliest memory to leaving home. The second portion of the exam will be related to questions of behavioral delinquency severity, age and frequency. Family composition will also be mapped. Test subjects who report significant numbers of delinquent acts will not be studied in closer detail for these purposes but will become part of a two-tiered normal test group. The second portion of the normal test group will consist of subjects who do not report violence in the home or self-delinquency.

Those subjects who report significant levels of violence in the home but do not report self-delinquency will remain in the test subject set. The test subject set will then be asked further questions associated with their evaluation of what about their family life helped them beat the odds and not "act out" as juvenile delinquents. All of the information received from the test cases will by statistically analyzed based on numbers and severity of violent acts, time of cessation of acts and family composition. The test cases for both normal and test subject sets will be recruited based on voluntary response to a campus wide campaign asking for subjects who experienced violence in the home as children or who wish to participate in a study that will add to the knowledge base for a solution to domestic violence. An attempt will be made to build a subject base of one hundred test subjects and one hundred normal test subjects. Self-report offers some skew of results simply based on time, memory and expectations but a test group of two hundred should account for a good portion of the skewing. Recorded transcripts will be coded anonymously and will be used to further the knowledge base of the study. Quantitative analysis of results will also attempt to reduce the skew of the self-report aspects of this test process.

Possible Expected Outcomes

The possible outcomes of this study could be a relatively long list containing family, individual and social aspects that help ensure success for individuals that have experienced violence within their family. Yet, past research can lead the researchers to believe that results for the outcome of success regardless of the presence of violence in families can be associated with several factors. Many of those reasons are associated with emotional support issues, even those connected with the perpetrator/s of violence. It seems that the development of copping skills and appropriate behavioral interaction are dependant on issues of emotional support and even the emotional support offered by dysfunctional members of the family unit.

The children may receive surrogate or replacement affection. They may have received a reprieve from violence by a demographic or composition change in their family or they may have received intervention, despite the fact that they didn't exhibit the symptoms of the stress at home, or in some cases they may have developed a cocoon like coping skill that isolated them from the violence through strength or diversion.

Yet, isolating the reasons for the success is the foundational reason for the development of such a study as isolating those traits, techniques or circumstances and then attempting to implement change among at risk individuals in the future will elicit value in the reduction of violence in families and in individuals.

It can be seen from the above literature review and proposal that there is a need to determine the possibility for bolstering the coping skills of individual children in violent circumstances. This should be addressed in accompaniment with continued focus on strengthening family skills and education. Helping children and families build skills that may help lesson the stressors on the family, children and society based on reducing anti-social and violent behavior in children and young adults.

There are many theories associated with the solutions for this growing problem of violence and anger among children.

There's some good news in how angry and even violent our children have become: They are reminding us that they need us. From the poverty in which so many children live to the lack of parental engagement in the home and the high suicide rates among teens, there is no lack of evidence that children have been sliding down our priority list for too long.

(Breggin, 2000, p. 223)

Breggin and several others believe that a message can be sent to our culture and our society about what these children want and need and how to provide it. This study will address the possibility that a partnership between the traditional solutions regarding parental education with a teaching program that helps young people gain the personal psychological defenses they need to resist the destruction of self through delinquency.


Breggin, P.R. (2000). Reclaiming Our Children: A Healing Solution for a Nation in Crisis. Cambridge, MA: Perseus Books.

Cummings, E.M., El-sheikh, M., Cummings, E.M., & El-sheikh, M. (1991). 7 Children's Coping with Angry Environments: A Process-Oriented Approach. In Life-Span Developmental Psychology: Perspectives on Stress and Coping, Cummings, E.M., Greene, a.L., & Karraker, K.H. (Eds.) (pp. 131-147). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Dakof, G.A. (1996). Meaning and Measurement of Family: Comment on Gorman-Smith Et Al. (1996). Journal of Family Psychology, 10(2), 142-146.

Gorman-Smith, D., Tolan, P.H., Zelli, a., & Huesmann, L.R. (1996). The Relation of Family Functioning to Violence Among…