Background/Objective: Youth violence, including school bullying and fighting, has become a global public health problem. Stress has been identified as a factor related to aggression (i.e., bullying behaviors, fighting, and anger), of which inner-city youth are particularly vulnerable given their often disproportionately high stress living environments. Stress and aggression are of particular concern in urban physical education (PE) given the proliferation of competitive, sport-based curricula, “culture of basketball”, and the often-limited supervision that takes place. Using the Social Ecological Model, the purpose of this study was to examine the relationships between stress and aggression in inner-city elementary PE students.
Methods: After parental consent, participants completed a questionnaire with validated scales measuring stress, aggression, and demographics. Participants included 138, 3rd-5th grade students (Mage = 9.77) from six inner-city schools in the Midwestern United States.
Analysis/Results: After correlations were conducted to determine relationships, a series of multiple regression analyses were used to determine the predictors of aggression; controlling for gender, race, and age. Regression results revealed that fighting was significantly predicted by the independent variables with stress, anger, and bullying uniquely contributing (F (6,115) = 21.54, p < 0.01, adj. R2 = 0.51). Additionally, bullying was uniquely predicted by fighting and anger (F (6,115) = 35.01, p < 0.01, adj. R2 = 0.63).
Conclusions: This study established a significant relationship between stress, anger, fighting and bullying behaviors in urban PE, possibly indicating a need for renewed focus on anti-aggressive approaches and positive stress response techniques. Specifically, mindfulness-based physical activities, such as Yoga, could enable educators to create more peaceful and less stressful climates, which might then lead to less bullying, fighting, and aggression, hence a more productive learning environment