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School Behaviour Problems

Literature identifies a wide range of behaviour that can be viewed as problematic. Much of the discussion over definitions revolves around what is perceived to be disruptive, which includes both perceptions of the frequency of certain behaviours along with their seriousness. Another issue which is raised by some researchers is that of context, which can in turn affect the perception of the types and seriousness of behaviours.

Cameron (1998) reviews classifications of problematic pupil behaviour in schools, and of strategies and techniques employed to address these behaviours. As part of this, he proposes a grouping of disruptive behaviour into five categories:

  1. aggressive behaviour (e.g. hitting, pulling hair, kicking, pushing, using abusive language);
  2. physically disruptive behaviour (e.g. smashing, damaging or defacing objects, throwing objects, physically annoying other pupils);
  3. socially disruptive behaviour (e.g. screaming, running away, exhibiting temper tantrums);
  4. authority-challenging behaviour (e.g. refusing to carry out requests, exhibiting defiant verbal and non-verbal behaviour, using pejorative language);
  5. self-disruptive behaviour (e.g. daydreaming, reading under the desk)

Moreover, 'frequency, magnitude and multi-category characteristics' are noted as important dimensions which determine the severity of 'bad' behaviour.

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