Is Children’s Behavior Better or Worse Than it Was Years Ago?

The following sample English research paper is 2291 words long, in MLA format, and written at the undergraduate level. It has been downloaded 733 times and is available for you to use, free of charge.

The idea of children’s behavior changing over the 20th and 21st century is paramount to the changes in society and technology. What was once expected of children 50 years ago is not the norm now. Furthermore, what is condoned now for children was most definitely not condoned 50 years ago. Some of the societal issues over the last 50 or 60 years will be discussed here and the psychological and behavioral effect on children will be discussed.

How this relates to my major and/or why this topic will be beneficial to me: 

As a student in the social sciences, studying changes to different groups and populations is important. It will help me understand a group or subgroup of people and their individual struggles over a period of time. It will help me better analyze societal issues going forward and further research in the social sciences. 

Ideas I have for the types of sources I will use:

Academic, peer-reviewed sources from the online library will be utilized. In the arena of social sciences, peer-reviewed research is paramount to understanding trends, ideas and coming to sound conclusions in research papers of this scope. In contrast, secondary sources can be used for opinion, but should not be used to base the author’s work on, but merely to use as a supplement to understand a trend or topic.

Documentation style: APA

Why I chose this documentation style: 

MLA because it is a style typically used by the arts and humanities departments including English language departments. It helps prevent plagiarism happening by requiring students to adhere to citation guidelines in-text and at the end of the paper. 

Initial ideas about how I might organize the paper:

I will divide the research paper into sections. The first part will be an introduction paragraph and what the author hopes to find from the research. The second part will be an analysis of scholarly resources related to the topic to find out if the proposed research shows why and if American children’s behaviors have changed over the years. The author will conclude the argument at this point providing a more thorough analysis of the findings. From there the author will conclude if the hypothesis was true or false and provide reasoning for the answers based on the study’s findings.

Graphics, secondary sources, or other ideas I have for the paper that I haven’t already shared (with analysis):

Smith, Katharine Capshaw. "Childhood, The Body, And Race Performance: Early 20Th-Century Etiquette Books For Black Children." African American Review 4 (2006): 795. Literature Resource Center. Web. 15 Feb. 2016. 

This piece examines the role of African-American children during the early to mid-twentieth century. Racial transformation at the time the book was written was important for children of African-American households because it called on every child, just as every adult to face racism. It instructed children to act a certain way to ensure equality happened. It instructs even the smallest children (toddlers for example) to be part of the racial transformation, giving each child a set behavior to follow.

Graupner, Helmut. "The 17-Year-Old Child: An Absurdity Of The Late 20Th Century." Journal Of Psychology & Human Sexuality 16.2/3 (2004): 7-24. SocINDEX with Full Text. Web. 15 Feb. 2016.

This journal talks about the sexuality of children up to 17 years of age in the 20th century, a behavior not known at least on the scale it is now. Although the study here aims at protecting children from child pornography and sexual exploitation, it also talks about combating the issues related to adolescent sexual behavior being seen currently. This issue encompasses trends such as ‘sexting’ and other morally derogatory issues facing children and adolescents today. It seeks to identify solutions to stop this kind of behavior and enact laws against sexual predators, specifically sexual predators preying on children. 

Cvjetan, Branko, et al. "The Social Environment Of Schools And Adolescent Nutrition: Associations Between The School Nutrition Climate And Adolescents' Eating Behaviors And Body Mass Index." Journal Of School Health 84.10 (2014): 677-682 6p. CINAHL Plus with Full Text. Web. 15 Feb. 2016.

This study examines student’s BMI (Body Mass Index) in school and the nutrition and other behaviors currently seen today by adolescents. The level of junk food in today’s environment as compared to before is studied. The eating habits, therefore, are what is being examined here in children and how junk food is now negatively affected their BMI index. Eating is a behavior and the eating behaviors now are much different than before. The amount of junk food that children put into their body now, shown in this study, has resulted in much higher BMI and other potential health risks. The readily available junk food market has taken over children and families, especially in the United States. This study seeks to understand the behavior and trends from the advent of readily available junk food.

"Soda Consumption Is Associated With Risk-Taking Behaviors In Adolescents." American Journal Of Health Behavior 39.6 (2015): 761-771 11p. CINAHL Plus with Full Text. Web. 15 Feb. 2016.

This study examines risk-taking behavior in children and adolescents and the effects of drinking soda or carbonated beverages. Soda, once not available to children is becoming problematic today because of the potential risk-taking behavior associated with its consumption. Children who consume soda who are involved in this study show a heightened sense of risk-taking behavior. This risk-taking behavior includes heightened BMI, dental caries and other behaviors that were not present before the wider availability of soda. Other risk-taking behaviors this study found were the fact that soda, in a sense, acted as a gateway into drug usage including marijuana, smoking, and drinking, often associated with risk-taking behavior. The difference here is that the sugar consumption and caffeine products were not readily available to children in years before, causing an all-new phenomenon of behavioral issues today. This is also the second article dealing with behavior eating issues in children.

"Effects Of Viewing Relational Aggression On Television On Aggressive Behavior In Adolescents: A Three-Year Longitudinal Study." Developmental Psychology 52.2 (2016): 284-295 12p. CINAHL Plus with Full Text. Web. 15 Feb. 2016.

This study examines the aggressive behavior of children and adolescents due to exposure to violent TV and other media forms. It was a three-year longitudinal study focusing on aggressive behavior and the long-term effects on the study participants. Specifically, this study ties in relational-aggression such as bullying and through analysis shows that female children and adolescents tend to suffer from relational-aggression more than males. Because of the mainstream availability of content depicting relational-aggression such as in the show Mean Girls, more and more adolescent females are now both exhibiting this kind of behavior than in the past as well as being victims of it. Relational aggression today is subject for a lot of heated debates including bullying and adolescent suicide which is at a much higher rate than in years past.

Miranda, Regina, et al. "Longitudinal Follow-Up Study Of Adolescents Who Report A Suicide Attempt: Aspects Of Suicidal Behavior That Increase Risk Of A Future Attempt." Depression & Anxiety (1091-4269) 31.1 (2014): 19-26 8p. CINAHL Plus with Full Text. Web. 15 Feb. 2016.

To piggyback off of the last article, this study examines adolescent suicide today with comparison to year’s past. It also examines the rate at which suicide is attempted a second time by adolescents who attempt at least once. It shows the year over year distribution of suicide rates among adolescents which shows an obvious growth in suicide rates today as opposed to year’s past. It then shows mitigating factors for suicide as well as triggers to those adolescents who have previously attempted suicide to reconsider their suicide attempt again.  

Charleton, Manus. "Abuse of Children in Institutional Care In 20Th-Century Ireland: An Analysis Using Fromm's Psychology." Journal of Social Work Practice 26.3 (2012): 327-339 13p. CINAHL Plus with Full Text. Web. 15 Feb. 2016.

Although based in Ireland, this study examines issues related to institutional child-care in the mid-20th century at Catholic institutions. It shows the systemic hostility and aggression used against the children in these institutions and the subsequent behaviors of the children affected. Other conditions as to the cause of this happening were religious in nature but also due to socio-economic statuses of the children. The systemic issues relating to a much bigger issue within the Catholic Church which aimed at cult-like activities such as self-abnegation. The study found changes in the children relating to behavior and authority and that moreover, workers in this type of profession must be secure in themselves, to avoid causing harm to children.

Meyerowitz, Joanne. "How Common Culture Shapes The Separate Lives": Sexuality, Race, And Mid-Twentieth-Century Social Constructionist Thought." Journal of American History 96.4 (2010): 1057-1084. Education Research Complete. Web. 15 Feb. 2016.

This piece focuses on mid-20th-century child rearing and other issues, examining the behaviors of then, to better help understand the differences in the behaviors of children now. The conclusion of this piece indicates that behavior in the mid-20th century was impacted more so by the intellectual movement of the time, rather than the before mid-20th-century view of eugenics. At this time, people were looking for social change, equality and behaviors were thus such. Prior to this period, it was thought that biological traits including race determined one’s ability’s and fate to include behavioral traits. The mid-20th century was a turning point which undermined the Hitler based approach in child rearing and many other behaviorally related issues.

Atkinson, Maxine P., and Stephen P. Blackwelder. "Fathering In the 20Th Century." Journal of Marriage & Family 55.4 (1993): 975-986. SocINDEX with Full Text. Web. 15 Feb. 2016.

This article presents child behavior in the 20th century from a point of view of the father. It examines the behavior expected of fathers in rearing their children and other family expectations in terms of behavior. Parenting was a big focus of child behavior in the 20th century. Bad child and adolescent behavior were therefore thought of as a result of bad child rearing from the parents. It also shows that fatherhood and parenting have changed in definition over time, creating changes in children’s behavior. In earlier years fathers had a specific role in the household often times which was the role of a provider and influencer. Now, including the later 20th century, that role has significantly changed. The effects of this change are examined in this study.

Bethmann, Dirk, and Michael Kvasnicka. "World War II, Missing Men And Out Of Wedlock Childbearing* World War II, Missing Men And Out Of Wedlock Childbearing." Economic Journal 123.567 (2013): 162. Publisher Provided Full Text Searching File. Web. 15 Feb. 2016.

This study examines fatherless children during World War II and the effects of raising children out of wedlock for women in the countries affected by the war. The subsequent behaviors can then be analyzed after analyzing the number of children born out of wedlock during this period of American history. It was taboo before this period to raise children out of wedlock and behaviors and attitudes started changing shortly thereafter.  This piece is a good turning point in the behaviors and attitudes of childrearing during the mid-20th century.

"Changes in Adult, Child, and Family Functioning Among Participants in A Family Treatment Drug Court." Child Welfare 94.5 (2015): 89-106 18p. CINAHL Plus with Full Text. Web. 15 Feb. 2016.

This study examines the behavioral changes for children in current drug courts as well as family behaviors. The unique issue of drug-related dysfunctions in families and the subsequent behaviors issues in children are examined in this article. This study specifically looked at the behavioral changes in family members, including 115 children going through drug-court, treating adults and adolescents with drug-dependencies. Once, not an issue of the past, specific behavioral patterns can now be tracked because of risk-taking behavior in families. This study seeks to define those behaviors and the behavioral changes seen in completing adequate training to help families adhere to healthy, drug-free lifestyles. The fact that these children are living in environments with drugs also puts them at a greater risk to partake in risky behavior themselves as children or adolescents or later in life. 

Honey, E, et al. "One-Year Change in Repetitive Behaviors in Young Children with Communication Disorders Including Autism." Journal of Autism & Developmental Disorders 38.8 (2008): 1439-1450 12p. CINAHL Plus with Full Text. Web. 15 Feb. 2016.

This study focuses on the behaviors of children today with autism. Not enough research has been done in the past to determine the behavioral attributes of children with autism. It seeks to identify specific behavioral issues present in this sub-group of children it shows the repetitive behaviors present in children with autism and the subsequent behaviors in the family that may cause children to exhibit these behaviors more. The study is unique because studies of children with this disorder were not evident in prior years and on a grand scheme of things, this study exemplifies the vast knowledge base of child-based behaviors. 

In conclusion, the vast array of articles here show a clear distinction in behaviors being seen currently and behaviors that were once of the past. It can, therefore, be predicted that through scholarly peer-reviewed resources that child behavior has changed greatly over the course of the 20th and 21st century. Other factors can be seen which have influenced the behavior changes in children, giving an explanation for the vast changes. This research proposal will help examine these issues more thoroughly and then develop strategies for positive change.