received about aggression) and behavior rehearsal (experience in settings where aggression is manifested or demonstrated and thus subject to the psychological processes of reinforcement, punishment, and conditioning) as the key processes for prevention. He identified cognitive structuring case studies examining the role of television violence in instigating aggressive behavior as one of the most studied areas on the influences on violence. Some recent data, he reported, indicated that the effect of TV violence on eliciting aggressive behavior is about as strong as the effect of smoking on lung cancer. Additional, older studies found that television violence elicited aggressive behavior in boys as early as the 1960s, but the same effect was not reported for girls until the 1980s. Dr. Garbarino asserted that the gender equity in this phenomenon is clearly attributable to changes in cognitive structuring. He has found cognitive structuring to be particularly important because his international research around violence and families suggests that nearly every act of violence that is committed is done so with a sense of justification; he cited the research of one of his colleagues that has examined how the dynamics of shame can lead to the validation and justification of what, to an outsider, looks like “crazy, unimaginably bizarre violence.”
He noted that in behavioral rehearsal, social change can affect aggression. The issue of reducing the gender gap to increase gender equality (e.g., the increase in the number of girls playing sports) may have unintended negative consequences by environmentally exposing girls to increased violence, with validation and reinforcement of physical aggression. He explained that meta-analyses of the role of gender in explaining normal physical aggression show a progression in the United States over the last 30 years of decreasing relevance of gender. In the United States, where gender equality starts to become something approximating a reality, other factors are much more important than gender in producing and predicting normal aggressive behavior.
Dr. Garbarino closed with some thoughts on collective violence and the potentially beneficial role that peace and reconciliation efforts and the affirmative respect of human rights may have on the mental health of children exposed to and traumatized by violence. He and his colleagues conducted research on Palestinian children, and their findings supported the notion that the context in which the trauma occurred has a lot to do with the prognosis for child development. The results of the children’s test responses fell into three categories: passive victimization, violent revenge, and a sort of prosocial revenge. Each of these groupings also has very different mental health scores, with passive victimization being the worst and the prosocial revenge group showing the clearest absence of debilitating mental health problems.