Washington, Mar 5 : Alcohol is considered to be a major cause of many university students experiencing violence. Now a study has reinstated this fact by saying that drinking at a fraternity, sorority or campus residence increases the chances of aggression.
The study, led by Samantha Wells, a scientist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and Tim Stockwell, professor and director of the Centre for Addictions Research of B.C. at the University of Victoria, has also found that attending parties can especially increase aggression for women.
"A number of studies have shown that university students experience a wide range of harms related to alcohol consumption, including aggression," said Wells.
Stockwell also said that aggression among university students is the mirror of aggression in society.
"I would not expect students to have lower or higher levels. Aggression and violence are features of group drinking situations, in general, especially where these involve groups of young men who are strangers to each other and are in competition in various ways," he said.
To find out the reason behind this aggression, the researchers used data collected through the 2004 Canadian Campus Survey, a national survey of 6,282 students at 40 universities. It assessed responses from 4,387 (64.3pct female, 35.7pct male) respondents, focusing on the students' three most recent drinking events.
"We found that that the more drinks students consumed, the greater their likelihood of experiencing aggression. We also found that aggression was more likely when students drank at a fraternity, sorority or residence, when their partner was present, and when they drank at three or more places on the same occasion. Drinking at a party also increased the likelihood of aggression, especially women. Conversely, aggression was less likely when students had a meal," said Wells.
As the researchers controlled for alcohol intake along with living arrangements, Wells said that there is something about fraternities, sororities and campus residences that is particularly risky for students.
"We need to understand what it is about these settings that make them particularly risky for aggression. Is it, for example, that large parties, such as keg parties, are held in these settings. Is it that drinking in these settings involves heightened concerns with masculinity," she said.
She added that the finding of greater aggression among women than men at parties was in line with previous research showing that women tend to report aggression with people they know and at home, whereas men are more likely to report aggression with strangers in public places.
"Prevention programs that focus on preparing women for the risks associated with drinking at parties might help to reduce their likelihood of experiencing aggression. However, more research ... would be useful to determine, for example, who women are fighting with and whether they are victims, mutual participants, or perpetrators," she said.
Both the researchers suggested that findings from this study could be used for policy and prevention purposes.
Results of this study are published in the March issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.