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Salud mental

versión impresa ISSN 0185-3325


QUIROZ DEL VALLE, Nieves et al. La familia y el maltrato como factores de riesgo de conducta antisocial. Salud Ment [online]. 2007, vol.30, n.4, pp.47-54. ISSN 0185-3325.

Antisocial behavior emerges as the result of different factors such as scholar problems, drug consumption, alcoholism, antisocial peer relationships, emotional problems, etc., which may in turn predispose to the individual to develop a pattern of antisocial behavior.

The present work aims to determine the association of antisocial behavior between the factors of a bad family environment and mistreatment, and to determine if they can predict the presence of antisocial behaviors in adolescents.

Family plays a primary role in the development of a person, especially in adolescent. In recent times, several problems of family disintegration and inadequate parent-child relationships are observed, and it has been described that antisocial personalities may arise from environments with child abuse, economical problems, humiliation, physical punishment and family disintegration. The experience of such emotions during childhood may lead to a severe impairment in the conformation of an emotionally-adapted personality, and may promote a tendency for the commitment of delictive behaviors in the future.

It is necessary to close the vicious cycle where mistreated parents mistreat their own children and avoid that the parents who lived unpleasant experiences of hostility, rejection, lack of communication, inestability, etc., repeat these patterns with their children. It is important to revalorize the role of family, its functions and characteristics and the most important, its determinant influence on young people that have behavior problems as antisocial behavior.

It is vital to create conscience about the harm that some children, adolescents and even adults have from their negative familial experiences of hostility, aggression, and mistreatment, because these experiences increase the possibilities of delictive behavior in these individuals.


In this context, the present research has its main interest in showing the relationship between past experiences of mistreatment or inadequate familial environments and the presence of antisocial behaviors in adolescents.


The present research is supported on results of the Mexico City Survey on drug consumption in 7 th to 12 th grade population carried on October 2003.

The total sample of the survey comprised 10659 students. For this research we used 3603 students, that corresponds to the number of students that completed the Form A of the questionnaire, that contained the areas of interest of the study.

The questionnaire was previously validated an its main indicators have shown adequate stability in different surveys. This instrument was applied in three different times due to its extension. Total time for its application was of 75 minutes.

Raters were trained for the application of the questionnaire. The course lasted 12 hours and included all the theoretical aspects related to addictions, objectives of the study, management of the questionnaire and the instructions for its application in the groups.


First of all, a comparative analysis by gender was performed. It was observed that antisocial behaviors were more frequent in men than in women. It is important to mention that men committed this acts in a double frequency than women, specially in terms of severe acts, where 10% of men committed them in contrast to the 3.3% observed in women.

Additionally, two factor ANOVA was performed (gender and antisocial behaviors) with the variables of this study, mistreatment and family environment, to determine if there were differences between groups (p<0.05) and significant differences were observed in all the areas of family environment.

The interaction analysis of the two factors: gender, act-non acts with family environment showed that for the area of hostility and rejection there were significant differences where women that committed antisocial acts were the ones that reported higher levels of hostility and rejection. In terms of communication of the son/daughter, women that committed antisocial acts were also the ones that reported a lower level of communication.

In the area of parent support, women that committed antisocial acts were also the ones that reported the lower levels. In the areas of parent communication and support to the son/daughter, men and women that committed antisocial acts reported less communication and support, respectively.

For the area of mistreatment, women reported higher levels of prosocial discipline and negative discipline when compared to men. No significant differences emerged between men an women in the area of severe negative discipline.

Also, no significant differences emerged between adolescents that committed antisocial acts and adolescents than do not committed these acts, in terms of prosocial discipline. Nevertheless, adolescents that committed antisocial acts reported higher levels of severe negative discipline.

For the analysis of the interaction of the factors gender, acts-non acts in the area of mistreatment, no differences emerged in the area of negative discipline. Significant differences emerge for prosocial discipline, where men that do not committed antisocial acts reported the lowest levels of prosocial discipline. For severe negative discipline, both men and women that committed antisocial acts reported the highest levels.

Finally, using logistic regression, we find that the main predictors of antisocial behavior were the presence of high hostility, low level of communication from the children, less child support and the presence of higher negative discipline and negative severe discipline. Communication, parent support and prosocial discipline were not predictive variables for antisocial behavior.

Our results support what is described in other studies where family is the main agent of socialization as family teaches the ways of social interaction, values, habit, etc. Furthermore, several studies that evaluated the relationship of the family and antisocial behavior were performed by analyzing the role of the family as a mediator of behavior and society, on the basis that family teaches children rules, abilities and motivations that in some way constitute their cultural and social patterns.

We conclude that family environment and mistreatment are factors associated to the presence of antisocial behavior. We must prevent this problem by improving familial relationships and providing a positive family environment to adolescents. In this way, our adolescents may have an adequate development throughout their lives.

If an adequate and positive environment is provided during childhood and is maintained through adolescence, with positive affective family relationships, the adolescent may see his/her parents as a guide; a reasonable not arbitrary discipline allows the adolescent to develop a social behavior that leads to an adequate self-control and self-directedness. On the contrary, if the relationships between parents and children are not favorable, the social behavior of the adolescent may be easily impaired and it is very common that these adolescents exhibit severe difficulties for social adaptation.

Palabras llave : Adolescents; antisocial behaviors; family; mistreatment.

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