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2 3 2010 WHITE PAPER Cognitive Behavioral Foundations of Aggression and Violence Nancy Guerra University of California at Riverside Nancy Guerra ucr edu A variety of individual characteristics have been identified that increase risk for childhood aggression and youth violence Some of these individual factors such as perinatal trauma begin in utero whereas others such as difficult temperament fearlessness impulsivity low verbal ability and lack of control begin at birth or shortly after Over time distinct dimensions of personality including low agreeableness and low conscientiousness also crystallize and increase the likelihood of aggression In other words a host of individual predispositions whether written on a child s biological birth certificate or emerging early in the course of development render certain children more prone to aggression than others from a very early age Without intervention children who develop aggressive behavioral patterns early in life are also more likely to graduate to more serious violence in adolescence and continue such behavior chronically For this reason elevated aggression and its precursors in early childhood are among the best factors for selecting individuals or subgroups for focused prevention and intervention programs However selecting children based on early aggression does not provide specific guidance for the content and scope of the intervention itself Indeed many individual risk factors linked to temperament personality and neuropsychological functioning are difficult to change although how these unfold in a given context can dictate their course For this reason it is important to identify individual characteristics associated with aggression and violence that can be targeted specifically by prevention and intervention programs It is also the case that children actively navigate and interpret their social worlds How they come to understand both their own behavior and the behavior of others has important 1 2 3 2010



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