Anti-social behaviour

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Not to be confused with Asociality.

Anti-social behaviour is behaviour that lacks consideration for others and may cause damage to the society, whether intentionally or through negligence.[1] Anti-social behaviour is labelled as such when it is deemed contrary to prevailing norms for social conduct.[2] This is the opposite of pro-social behaviour, which helps or benefits the society.[1]

Criminal and civil laws in various countries attempt to offer remedies for anti-social behaviour. In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, persistent anti-social behaviour is part of a diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder (ASPD).[3] The ICD-10 defines a conceptually similar or equivalent disorder titled dissocial personality disorder.[4]

Social development[edit]

Intent and discrimination may determine both pro- and anti-social behaviour. Infants may act in seemingly anti-social ways and yet be generally accepted as too young to know the difference before the age of 4 or 5.[1] In preschool, an increase in aggression in children is considered normal.[citation needed] Lack of aggression may lead to depression and anxiety later in life; however, continued aggression can indicate problems.[citation needed] Persistent anti-social behaviour may lead to ASPD. Berger states that parents should teach their children that "emotions need to be regulated, not repressed".[5]


Anti-social personality disorder[edit]

Antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) is described by the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition (DSM-IV-TR), as an Axial II personality disorder characterized by "... a pervasive pattern of disregard for, and violation of, the rights of others that begins in childhood or early adolescence and continues into adulthood."[6] A person usually is not diagnosed until after age 18, and must represent symptoms from an early age.[6] This disorder can be difficult to diagnose and treat since people with anti-social behaviours would not seek care, or listen to others. It may take a court mandate for people to seek treatment they need. Diagnosis is done by a trained mental health professional.[citation needed]

Because the criteria for diagnosing Antisocial Personality Disorder emphasize overt violations of social rules, it is not surprising that it correlates so well with criminality. Research on American criminals showed that 25 to 30 percent of the imprisoned inmates meet the criteria for Antisocial Personality Disorder. Canadian researcher Robert Hare (1983) reported that 40 to 50 percent of the convicted prisoners in Canada met the criteria for Antisocial Personality Disorder and that in some Canadian prison populations the rate was as high as 75 percent. Psychopathic prisoners on average have longer sentences and are less successful in staying out of prison than nonpsychopathic prisoners


[citation needed]

Anti-social behaviour order in the UK[edit]

ASBO warning in London.

An anti-social behaviour order (ASBO) is a civil order made against a person who has been shown, on the balance of evidence, to have engaged in anti-social behaviour. The orders, introduced in the United Kingdom by Prime Minister Tony Blair in 1998,[7] were designed to criminalize minor incidents that would not have warranted prosecution before.[8]

The Crime and Disorder Act 1998 defines anti-social behaviour as acting in a manner that has "caused or was likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to one or more persons not of the same household" as the perpetrator. There has been debate concerning the vagueness of this definition.[9] The Act introduced the Anti-social behaviour order ("ASBO"), a civil order that can result in a jail sentence of up to five years if the terms are breached. Anti-Social Behaviour Orders are civil sanctions, effective for a minimum of two years and classed as criminal proceedings for funding purposes due to restrictions they place on individual liberty. An Anti-Social Behaviour Order does not give the offender a criminal record, but sets conditions prohibiting the offender from specific anti-social acts or entering into defined areas. Breach of an Anti-Social Behaviour Order is, however, a criminal offence.[citation needed]

In 2003 the Anti-social Behaviour Act amended the original Act and introduced further sanctions such as Child Curfews and Dispersal Orders.[citation needed]

The following list sets out what behaviour the UK police classify as anti-social:[10]

  • Substance misuse such as glue sniffing
  • Drinking alcohol on the streets
  • Problems related to animals such as not properly restraining animals in public places
  • Begging
  • Prostitution related activity such as curb crawling and loitering
  • Abandoned vehicles that may or may not be stolen
  • Vehicle nuisance such as "cruises" – revving car engines, racing, wheel spinning, and horn sounding
  • Noise coming from business or industry
  • Noise coming from alarms
  • Noise coming from pubs and clubs
  • Environmental damage such as graffiti and littering
  • Inappropriate use of fireworks
  • Inappropriate use of public space such as disputes among neighbours, rowdy or inconsiderate behaviour
  • General drunken behaviour (which is rowdy or inconsiderate)
  • Hoax calls to the emergency services
  • Pubs or clubs serving alcohol after hours
  • Malicious communication
  • Hate incidents where abuse involves race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, or disability
  • Firearms incidents such as use of an imitation weapon

In a survey conducted by University College London during May 2006, the UK was thought by respondents to be Europe's worst country for anti-social behaviour, with 76% believing Britain had a "big or moderate problem".[11]


Many of the studies regarding the media's influence on anti-social behaviour have been deemed inconclusive. The violence, racism, sexism, and other anti-social acts are attributed to things such as genetic predisposition and violence in the home. Some reviews have found strong correlations between aggression and the viewing of violent media (Anderson, 2007) while others find little evidence to support their case (Sherry, 2007). The only unanimously accepted truth regarding anti-social behaviour is that parental guidance carries an undoubtedly strong influence; Providing children with brief negative evaluations of violent characters helps to reduce violent effects in the individual (Nathanson, 2004).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c (Berger 2003, p. 302)
  2. ^ Welcome to Breckland Council. "Anti Social Behaviour". Retrieved 2014-04-29. 
  3. ^ "Antisocial Personality Disorder". BehaveNet. Retrieved 2013-05-01. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ Berger, Kathleen (2005). The Developing Person Through the Life Span. NY, New York: Catherine Woods. 
  6. ^ a b Antisocial personality disorderDiagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fourth edition Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR) American Psychiatric Association (2000) pp. 645–650
  7. ^ "ASBOs can't beat a neighborhood policeman Times Online 30 September 2009". Retrieved 2014-04-29. 
  8. ^ "BBC Q&A Anti-social behaviour orders". BBC News. 2002-03-20. Retrieved 2014-04-29. 
  9. ^ Andrew Millie (2009). Anti-Social Behaviour. ISBN 0-335-22916-6. 
  10. ^ "Safer Lancashire website (accessed 20 Dec 06)". 24 January 2011. Retrieved 2013-05-01. 
  11. ^ Matt Weaver and agencies (2006). UK 'has worst behaviour problem in Europe'., Tuesday 9 May 2006


Further reading[edit]

  • Valsiner, J. (2007). "Personal culture and conduct of value". Journal of Social, Evolutionary & Cultural Psychology 1 (2): 59–65. doi:10.1037/h0099358. 
  • Berger, Kathleen Stassen (2003). The Developing Person Through Childhood and Adolescence, 6th edition (3rd publishing). Worth Publishers. ISBN 0-7167-5257-3. 
  • Judith and Martin Land, Adoption Detective: Memoir of an Adopted Child, ISBN 978-1-60494-571-3, Wheatmark Publishing, 2011, pages 43, 91, 268-269, state that antisocial behaviour is a characteristic highly common among children who are orphaned, fostered, or adopted. Adopted parents may be prone to address psychological trauma by denying personal responsibility for insecurities and antisocial behaviour exhibited by their adopted children by placing all of the blame for their undesirable behaviours on the birth parents. To be an adoptee in the twenty-first century does not carry the same stigma that it did a generation ago, but many adoptees are still prone to act out their frustrations and hostilities through destructive antisocial behaviour. A consequence to society is the abnormally high number of adopted children involved in crime and drugs, which is strikingly higher than the average population. Social workers, medical doctors, and clergy seldom inform birth mothers that their children, if given to strangers for adoption, will have a high possibility of exhibiting selective mutism, oppositional defiant disorder, separation syndrome, and other unstable qualities. They are also more likely to exhibit antisocial behaviour.
  • Williamson, P. (2007). Ratings and their reasons: An investigation of the efficiency, application and unin-tended consequences of the Motion Picture Associa-tion of America’s film rating system. Dissertation, Michigan State University.
  • Patchin, J. W., & Hinduza, S. (2006). Bullies move beyond the schoolyard. Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, 4, 148–169.
  • Gerbner, G., Gross, L., Morgan, M., & Signorelli, N. (1994). Growing up with television: The cultivation perspective. In J. Bryant & D. Zillmann (Eds.), Media effects: Advances in theory and research. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
  • Signorelli, N. (2003). Prime-time violence 1993–2001: Has the picture really changed? Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 47(1), 36–58.

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