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Anti-social behaviours are "age-inappropriate" actions that harm or lack consideration for the well-being of others. Many people also label behaviour which is deemed contrary to prevailing norms for social conduct as anti-social behaviour. The term is especially used in British English.
The American Psychiatric Association, in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, diagnoses persistent anti-social behaviour as antisocial personality disorder. The World Health Organization includes it in the International Classification of Diseases as "dissocial personality disorder". A pattern of persistent anti-social behaviours can also be present in children and adolescents diagnosed with conduct problems, including conduct disorder or oppositional defiant disorder under the DSM-5.
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. Berger states that parents should teach their children that "emotions need to be regulated, not depressed".
Many of the studies regarding the media's influence on anti-social behaviour have been deemed inconclusive. There has been a correlation found between the number of TV hours watched and amounts of aggressive behaviour. A study was conducted that observed the effects of violent and non-violent films on Belgian and American male juvenile delinquents. The results stated that aggression increased by some measures in the violent films, however only by those who were naturally high in aggression. 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, while others find little evidence to support their case. 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.
Intervention and treatment
An individual's age at intervention is a strong predictor of the effectiveness of a given treatment. The specific kinds of anti-social behaviours exhibited, as well as the magnitude of those behaviours also impact how effective a treatment is for an individual.
Cognitive behavioural therapy
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), is a highly effective, evidence-based therapy, in relation to anti-social behaviour. This type of treatment focuses on changing how individuals think and act in social situations. Individuals with particularly aggressive anti-social behaviours tend to have maladaptive social cognitions, including hostile attribution bias, which lead to negative behavioural outcomes. CBT has been found to be more effective for older children and less effective for younger children. Problem-solving skills training (PSST) is a type of CBT that aims to recognize and correct how an individual thinks and consequently behaves in social environments. This training provides steps to assist people in obtaining the skill to be able to evaluate potential solutions to problems occurring outside of therapy and learn how to create positive solutions to avoid physical aggression and resolve conflict.
Behavioural parent training
Behavioural parent training (BPT) or parent management training (PMT), focuses on changing how parents interact with their children and equips them with ways to recognize and change their child's maladaptive behaviour in a variety of situations. BPT assumes that certain types of interactions between parents and children may reinforce a child's antisocial behaviours, therefore the aim of BPT is to teach the parent effective skills to better manage and communicate with their child. BPT has been found to be most effective for younger children under the age of 12. Researchers credit the effectiveness of this treatment at younger ages due to the fact that younger children are more reliant on their parents. BPT is used to treat children with conduct problems, but also for children with ADHD.
In severe cases, medication will be administered to control behaviour, however it is not a suitable substitute for therapy. Lithium carbonate has been proven to be effective medication for people with anti-social behaviour, reducing aggression, threatening behaviour, bullying, fighting and temper outbursts.
In the UK
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, were designed to criminalize minor incidents that would not have warranted prosecution before.
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.
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".
Current legislation governing anti-social behaviour in the UK is the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 which received Royal Assent in March 2014 and came into enforcement in October 2014. This replaces tools such as the ASBO with 6 streamlined tools designed to make it easier to act on anti-social behaviour.
Anti-social behaviour can have a negative effect and impact on Australian communities and their perception of safety. The Western Australia Police force define antisocial behaviour as any behaviour that annoys, irritates, disturbs or interferes with a persons’ ability to go about their lawful business. In Australia, many different acts are classed as anti-social behaviour such as, misuse of public space, disregard for community safety, disregard for personal well-being, acts directed at people, graffiti, protests, liquor offences and drunk driving. It has been found that it is very common for Australian adolescents to engage in different levels of anti-social behaviour. A survey was conducted in 1996 in New South Wales, Australia, of 441, 234 secondary school students in years 7 to 12 about their involvement in anti-social activities. 38.6 percent reported intentionally damaging or destroying someone else's property, 22.8 percent admitted to received or selling stolen goods and close to 40 percent confessed to attacking someone with the idea of hurting them. The Australian community are encouraged to report any behaviour of concern and play a vital role assisting police in reducing anti-social behaviour. One study conducted in 2016 established how perpetrators of anti-social behaviour may not actually intend to cause offense. The study examined anti-social behaviours (or microaggressions) within the LGBTIQ community on a university campus. The study established how many members felt that other people would often commit anti-social behaviours, however there was no explicit suggestion of any maliciousness behind these acts. Rather, it was just that the offenders were naive to impact of their behaviour.
The Western Australia Police force uses a three step strategy to deal with antisocial behaviour.
- Prevention – This action uses community engagement, intelligence, training and development and the targeting of hotspots, attempting to prevent unacceptable behaviour from occurring.
- Response – A timely and effective response to antisocial behaviour is vital. Police provide ownership, leadership and coordination to apprehend offenders.
- Resolution – Identifying the underlying issues that cause anti-social behaviour are determined and resolved with the help of the community and offenders are successfully prosecuted.
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