In anticipation of Australia Day 2013, the mass media and the police down under made efforts to raise awareness on the increasing number of assault cases being reported each year. The weekend-long celebrations brought along more than one hundred complaints and reports of aggression, both in 2011 and in 2012.
According to police representatives, young men were the perpetrators in most such cases, while the cause behind them was substance abuse, whether that substance was alcohol or a recreational drug. Other voices blamed the displays of violence on the Australians’ tendency to view drinking as a part of national identity, while others still implied that nice weather and massive parties tend to cause such behaviors more often than not. However, stereotyping, sunshine, and alcohol are collateral causes; also, they explain part of the problem, yet bring victims, perpetrators, and authorities no closer to a solution. Scientific reports have proven that anger management counseling is a powerful tool in managing and preventing violent crime. And while it can’t magically make it go away, it is likely that it could improve the status quo.
Being Part of the Solution, Not the Problem
A study published in the early 2000s by the Forensic and Applied Psychology Research Group at the University of South Australia attempted to explain the link between cases of violence and anger. It acknowledged the fact that violent crime is often sensationalized by the media, yet also noted that the number of sentenced offenders is on the rise (while aggression cases themselves are not necessarily increasing in frequency). It also allowed for the fact that not all cases of violence are fueled by anger, but pointed to the difficulty in managing offenders with anger issues. Many convicted offenders score highly on anger tests, yet, with the proper anger management strategies employed, many of them also stand a chance at improving.
The study concludes that it’s highly important to maintain anger management programs, as long as they are implemented discriminately, on a needs-based foundation. Potential candidates should be assessed thoroughly before they enter such programs. Those who pose a high risk of violence should undertake at least 100 hours of therapy, while the others should be exposed to at least 50 hours. With proper staff training, close monitoring of the programs’ methodology, and regular re-evaluations of the patients (which would gauge the pace of their progress), anger management stands a good chance of rehabilitating previously condemned offenders.
Anger is not the kind of issue that only crops up in extreme cases. While it is certainly a reality in the penitentiary system, and a most serious one that needs to be properly addressed, most office settings also serve as the backdrop for angry outbursts or stifled resentment. Employees will blame their bosses or co-workers, they will go to work with negative expectations that fuel equally bleak moods, and will quickly abandon goals of career efficiency – since they’ll be dying to change jobs. In late 2012, a group of researchers from the Griffith Business School launched a research program that aims to explore ways of dealing with all the bottled-up anger in corporate Australia. The project, which will unfurl over the course of three years, means to survey one hundred teams of workers in major companies. The poll will then be followed by an analysis of 250 employees and their responses to anger management courses. The scientists believe that anger will propagate among teams and in social groups and that emotional intelligence is one factor, which plays a major part in regulating those angry feelings. They are also looking forward to see whether anger management can really pay off in a business environment and hope to enlist the participation of as many organizations as possible.