Impact of Parenting Styles on the Intensity of Parental and Peer Attachment: Exploring the Gender Di...

Safina Safdar, Syeda Mehreen Zahrah

American Journal of Applied Psychology

Impact of Parenting Styles on the Intensity of Parental and Peer Attachment: Exploring the Gender Differences in Adolescents

Safina Safdar1,, Syeda Mehreen Zahrah1

1Applied Psychology, Lahore Garrison University, Lahore, Pakistan

Abstract

The study investigates the gender differences in parenting styles on the intensity of parental and peer attachment. Urdu translated version of Parental Authority Questionnaire (Babree, 1997) and Inventory of Parental and Peer attachment, urdu version (Zafar, 2009) were used to collect the information from the participants. Sample recruited from different public schools comprised of adolescents (N=284) with equal boys and girls of age 13 to 16. It was hypothesized that: there would be a significant impact of parenting styles on the intensity of parental and peers attachment and there would be a significant gender difference on the intensity of parental and peer attachment. Multiple Regression analysis and independent sample t.test was applied to test the hypothesis of the study. Results indicated that parenting styles are a strong predictor of intensity of parental and peer attachment. However authoritative parenting style had a significant and positive impact on both of the variables (parental and peer attachment). Result showed the negative and significant impact of permissive and authoritarian parenting styles on parental and peer attachment. Gender differences indicted that girls show great intensity of parental attachment and boys show greater peer attachment. Current study is pretty insightful in understanding the role of parenting styles in developing the intensity of parental and peer attachment.

Cite this article:

  • Safina Safdar, Syeda Mehreen Zahrah. Impact of Parenting Styles on the Intensity of Parental and Peer Attachment: Exploring the Gender Differences in Adolescents. American Journal of Applied Psychology. Vol. 4, No. 2, 2016, pp 23-30. http://pubs.sciepub.com/ajap/4/2/1
  • Safdar, Safina, and Syeda Mehreen Zahrah. "Impact of Parenting Styles on the Intensity of Parental and Peer Attachment: Exploring the Gender Differences in Adolescents." American Journal of Applied Psychology 4.2 (2016): 23-30.
  • Safdar, S. , & Zahrah, S. M. (2016). Impact of Parenting Styles on the Intensity of Parental and Peer Attachment: Exploring the Gender Differences in Adolescents. American Journal of Applied Psychology, 4(2), 23-30.
  • Safdar, Safina, and Syeda Mehreen Zahrah. "Impact of Parenting Styles on the Intensity of Parental and Peer Attachment: Exploring the Gender Differences in Adolescents." American Journal of Applied Psychology 4, no. 2 (2016): 23-30.

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1. Introduction

Parent’s behavior had a great impact on the life of children because they play an important role in their physical, emotional, and psychological well being. Early parent-child relationships like attachment create positive effects on the behavior of the children [43]. Parent’s positive responses towards their children’s cues help in reducing parent’s child communication gap [51]. In this way children learn how to manage their emotions and adjust in new environment which consequently effects on how to develop healthy relationships with peer.

Parenting styles are developed on the basis of general patterns of parent’s attitude towards their children. Basically parenting styles are manifested in the central predisposition of parents own characteristics [45]. Parenting styles were introduced by Baumrind in 1967. Her influential work identified three parenting styles i.e., authoritative, authoritarian, and permissive. Authoritative parents use assertive method towards their children and set clear standard for their children. Authoritarian parents show restricted and status oriented attitude towards their children. Permissive parents show linnet and non-directive attitude towards their children. Baumrind revealed that authoritative parenting style affects positively on the life of children rather than other parenting styles [11].

Much research has been done on the dimensions of authoritative parenting style. Hickman and Crossland [28] reported in their study that authoritative parenting style is highly linked with adjustment in new environment. There is also a significant relationship between academic achievements and authoritative parenting styles [37]. This category of parenting style also has a relationship with adaptive functioning in children. Rossman and Rea [44] in their research on violent and conflictual families revealed that authoritative parenting style is associated with positive child functioning. Odubote [39] also reported in his study that authoritative parenting styles leads to positive outcomes in child personality. Many researchers [25, 41, 49] showed that authoritative parenting style is also helpful for the development of psychosocial characteristics like self-efficacy and self-esteem in children.

All the three categories of parenting styles (authoritative, authoritarian, and Permissive) have a great influence on the child’s later life. A research by [17] found that authoritative parenting style create positive effects on child’s development as compared to other two categories. A study by [6] conducted in Iran on the relationship of parenting styles and behavioral problems has found that authoritative parenting style is connected with less behavioral problems.

Parenting styles (Authoritative, authoritarian, permissive) also have a great impact on the attachment patterns of children. Attachment is a unique and everlasting emotional bonding between children and their parents. Children always develop attachment with their parents, even if their parents use harsh and abusive language with their children. There are mainly two patterns of attachment namely secure and insecure base. A sense of secure attachment in children is based on the parent’s positive and sensible responses towards them. On the other hand parent’s insensitive and irresponsible attitude develops insecure attachment in their children [7]. Attachment theory given by the combined work of Bowlby and Ainsworth, Bowlby revealed that early parent-child relationship influences greatly in making attachment pattern in children [15].

In his attachment theory Bowlby gave four characteristics of attachment [16]. First proximity maintenance in which child wishes to become close with the caregivers. Second safe haven in this type the child comes to his parents when he feels fear. Third secure base in this the care givers provide the sense of security. Fourth Separation distress in this the child feels anxiety in the absence of caregivers [42].

The second pioneer of attachment theory was Mary Ainsworth who was the follower of Bowlbys’ attachment theory and strongly supported the concept of caregivers as secure base. The main tents of this theory were to provide the importance of sense of security in children. According to [2] through this type of security with the parents, the child develop an inner working model which is based on the beliefs, expectations, responsiveness, attention, care, and emotional bonding of caregivers.

Ainsworth et al [2] conducted an experiment to observe attachment style. In which he used a technique he named “the strange–situation”. First “Secure Attachment style” in which Ainsworth observed during his experiment that the child was showing comfort and closeness towards his mother. He did not feel anxiety in the absence of his mother. He met his mother with affection when she came after a short period of time and he preferred his mother as compared to the stranger. Second “Avoidant Attachment style” in which child did not show significant preference towards his mother as compared to the stranger. Also he showed not a very considerable closeness towards his mother when she returned back in the room. The third attachment style given by Ainsworth “Ambivalent Attachment style” in which the child showed anxiety when her mother left him alone in the room. But he did not show the proximity after she returned back. Fourth Attachment styles is “Disorganized or disoriented attachment style” in which the child showed the mixture of behaviors like clinging and avoiding his mother at the same time. He presented himself as confused and frightened in each of experimental situations [42].

A number of empirical studies have shown that there is a relationship between parenting styles and attachment styles. Many researchers [34] has also found the relationship between parenting style and attachment styles. Results revealed that authoritative parenting style is positively linked with secure attachment style. Another Research [1] showed that there is a relationship between parenting styles, attachment styles and social development.

Current study is interested in both parenting styles and attachment style to explore adolescent’s parental and peer attachment. Attachment is the reflection of emotional bonding between parents and children. Later on this bonding can be helpful in developing peer relationships and ultimately its effects on maintaining the intimate relationships. Greater the emotional bonding between parents and the child greater will be the bonding between child’s later relationships [16]. But the effect of individual differences is another important factor in this regard. As Bowlby [16] also has described this thing in his theory of attachment that individuals vary in how they perceive their emotional bonding with their parents which consequently affects on how they perceive their parental attachment.

Parental behavior such as disconfirming and controlling attitude, rejection and lack of interaction with children are positively associated with less peer acceptance [9]. Parade [40] in his study on first semester college students revealed that children with secure parental attachment easily form close friends and also they are more satisfied with their peer relationship. Attachment patterns work as an internal working model which guide adults for intimate relationships. Adults with authoritative parenting style and secure attachment are highly related with intimate relationships [38].

The quality of attachment has a greater impact on the life of adolescents. There has a lot of work been done on quality of attachment and its impact on adolescent‘s development. Individual‘s perception of quality of attachment towards parents and peers is positively related to the individual’s wellbeing. More specifically the quality of attachment with parents is highly related to the individual’s wellbeing rather than the quality of attachment with peers [24].

Literature review has indicated that there has been a lot of work being done on effects of parenting styles and parental attachment on psychological wellbeing, social, and personality behavioral and emotional development. Furthermore the research done so far in Pakistan and also worldwide is primarily to find out the impact of specific categories of parenting styles and specific attachment styles on individual’s personality. But, no attempt has been noticed to measures the child’s own attachment with parents and with peers. Also very few researches have done on peer attachment in Pakistan culture. Consequently, the present study is primarily focused on bridging the gap in literature by measuring the “intensity of child’s own parental and peers attachment” rather than just measuring the impact of parenting style on a specific attachment style.

2. Method

2.1. Sample

The sample of 284 adolescents (boys=140; girls =144) was collected from 9th and 10th class of different public schools through convenient sampling. Inclusion criteria were age range 13 to 15 years and adolescents living with both parents.

2.2. Demographic Page

Demographic questionnaire was developed to assess the inclusion criteria. It included the age range of the participants, mother alive or not, father alive or not and both parents alive or not.

2.3. Parental Authority Questionnaire:

Parenting styles of the participants were assessed by using the Urdu version Babree [10 ] of Parental Authority Questionnaire originally developed by [11]. Babree gave permission to use the Urdu version for this study (Appendix A). The scale consisted of 60 items 30 items for part 1 for measuring the attitude of mother perceived by the child. And 30 items for measuring the attitude of father perceived by the child. These 60 items are actually arranged in three subscales namely (authoritarian, authoritative, and permissive parenting style). The range of possible score is 30-50 [10].

Scoring system: Scoring was based on 5 point likert scale ranging from 1(strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). The scores were computed in a range of possible score (30-50) where 30 was the minimum score and 50 were the maximum score. Reliability coefficients for the subscales of mother were 0.80, 0.81, and 0.82 for mother’s authoritativeness, authoritarianism, and permissiveness respectively. And for father subscale the reliability coefficient values were 0.79, 0.76, and 0.80 for authoritativeness, authoritarianism, and permissive respectively. The reliability coefficient values for the present sample were 0.83 for authoritative parenting style, 0.74 for authoritarian parenting style, and 0.73 for permissive parenting style, confirming the satisfactory internal consistency of this scale to use in the current study. It deals with best criterion validity [10]

2.4. Inventory of Parental and Peers Attachment:

The intensity of parental attachment was assessed by using the Urdu version (Zafar, 2009) of the inventory of parental and peer attachment. Zafar gave me the permission to use this scale (Appendix B). Originally, The IPPA was developed by [8] to assess adolescent’s positive and negative perception of relationship with their parents and close friends. The instrument was devised with structured question based on the theoretical frame work formulated by [14] and later on expanded by others. Although the development sample was 16 to 20 years of age for this scale. But, Armsden also reported that the IPPA can be used with great success with adolescents as young as 12, This self-report questionnaire is a five point Likert-scale response format, i-e., never true (1), not very often true (2), sometimes true (3), often true (4), always true (5) [8]. The original version was consisted of 53 items, yielding two attachment scores, 28 parents and 25 peer items. And the revised version consists of three sub scales namely (mother, father, and peer) having 25 items for each subscale [8].

Scoring system: The IPPA includes reverse-scoring format for reverse items or negatively worded items. And then adding the responded values in each version. Reversed items for mother and father attachment scales are 3,6,8,9,10,11,14,17,18,23. And for peer version 4,5,9,10,11,18,22,23 are the reversed items [8]. Internal reliability (Cronbach’s alpha) for revised version is 0.87 for mother attachment, 0.87 for father attachment and 0.92 for peer attachment [8]

The tests-retest reliability for original version was 0.86 for peer attachment and 0.93 for parental attachment [8]. Internal consistency (Cronbach’s alpha) for this sample was computed for each of the three versions and the values are Mother: 0.77, Father: 0.75, and Peer: 0.75. For validity, Armsden [8] has reported that Inventory of Parental and Peer Attachment has been used in researches on these variables (Personality, family, and social concept) and results support the satisfactory validity of this instrument.

2.5. Procedure:

First of all permission was taken from the concerned authorities of the public school. They were informed about the topic of the research, its purpose and duration. They were also insured that information taken during this study would be kept confidential and used for only research paper. Data was collected in group setting. Then PAQ along with IPPA and demographic questionnaire were administered on the sample. They were instructed to read each item carefully and honestly. Also they were requested not to leave any statement unanswered. Participants who were from broken and single parents families as depicted by the demographic page were excluded from the sample. The subjects were given detailed instruction about the questionnaires. They were asked to rate each item on both scales on a 5 point rating scale.

The data collected was scored according to the scoring system given by the authors of the standard measures used in the study. At first the scores were entered in to the data file of SPSS Statistical Package for Social Science version 18 for the purpose of data analysis by using different statistical techniques.

3. Results

Results were analyzed through different statistical analysis techniques. Standard multiple regressions was used to find out that how each predictive variable has an impact on the intensity of mother attachment, father attachment and peer attachment. Independent sample t-test was used for comparing the mean score of boys and girls on the variable of parenting styles and attachment.

3.1. Descriptive Analysis

Table 1. Descriptive statistics and Alpha coefficient of Parental Authority Questionnaire (PAQ) as well as Inventory of Parental and Per Attachment (IPPA) (N=284)

Table 1 shows the mean score of parental authority questionnaire and inventory of parental and peer attachment. These results indicate that adolescents mostly reported authoritative parenting styles (M=4.6, S.D. 578) rather than other parenting styles and attachment pattern. Table 1 further shows quite high value of alpha coefficient for both (PAQ) and (IPPA). The values indicate relatively high internal consistency of the two scales.

Figure 1. Mean scores of parenting styles on PAQ reported by the adolescents
Figure 2. Mean scores of parental attachment on IPPA reported by adolescents
Figure 3. Mean scores of peer attachment on IPPA reported by adolescents

Pearson’s correlation is used for describing the relationship among these variables.

Table 2. Inter –correlation among Parenting style, Parental and Peer attachment (N=284)

Table 2 reveals that there is positive correlation between the authoritative parenting style and maternal attachment (r =.45, P<0.01). The degree of relation was also strong which showed the large correlation between the variables. The results further shows the positive correlation between the authoritative parenting style and paternal attachment. But the strength of the correlation was medium between these two variables (r.38, p<.0.01). There is also found positive weak relationship between authoritative parenting style and peer attachment but the strength of the correlation was low (r.28, p<0.01).

Results also reveal the low relationship among the authoritarian parenting style, maternal attachment (r =.002, p=n.s), paternal attachment (r.003, p=n.s) and peer attachment (r.030, p=n.s). The results further shows the negative correlation among the permissive parenting style, maternal attachment (r-.123**, p<0.01), paternal attachment (r-.121, p<0.01) and peer attachment (r-.007, p=n.s). But the strength of the correlation was negatively low between these variables. In father section, the table further shows the high correlation between authoritative parenting styles rather than other parenting styles.

3.2. Hypothesis 1, 2 and 3

1. There would be a greater impact of parenting styles on the intensity of father attachment.

2. There would be a greater impact of parenting styles on the intensity of mother attachment

3. There would be a greater impact of parenting styles on the intensity of peer attachment.

To test these hypothesis standard multiple regression was carried out.

Table 3. Regression Analysis of Parenting styles on mother, father and peer attachment (N=284)

Table 3 shows that parenting styles are found to be a significant predictor of maternal attachment accounting of the variance of 30.4% F (3, 280) =40.76, P<.000. It reveals that authoritative parenting style is best significant predictor of maternal attachment with proportion of variance 52.8%, P<.00. It also reveal that authoritative parenting style have the greater impact on the intensity of mother attachment. Authoritarian parenting style is not a significant predictor of maternal attachment with variance of 8.9%, P=n.s. But Permissive parenting style is also a significant predictor of parental attachment with variance of 23.5%, P<.00.

Table 3 also shows that parenting styles are found to be the significant predictors of paternal attachment with variance of 25%, F (3,280) =31.09, P<.00. Authoritative parenting style is the most significant predictor of paternal attachment with variance of 47.1%, P<. 00. It also reveals that authoritative parenting style have positive relationship with intensity of father attachment. Authoritarian parenting style is not a significant predictor of paternal attachment with variance of -9%, P=n.s. Permissive parenting style is also a significant predictor of paternal’ attachment with variance of -23.1%, P<.000. Both parenting styles (Authoritarian, permissive) have the negative relationship with intensity of father attachment.

Table 3 has also shown that the parenting styles are found to be the significant predictors of peer attachment with variance of 16.5%, F (3,280) =18.407, P<.00. Authoritative parenting style is the most significant predictor of peer attachment with variance of 40.7%, P<. 00. It also reveal that authoritative parenting style have greater impact on the intensity of peer attachment. Authoritarian parenting style is also a significant predictor of peer attachment with variance of -12.6%, P<0.05. Permissive parenting style is not a significant predictor of peers’ attachment with variance of -8.4%, P=n.s.

3.3. Hypothesis 4 and 5

4. There would be a significant gender differences on the perception of parenting styles.

5. There would be a significant gender difference on the intensity of mother, father and peer attachment.

Independent sample is used for comparing the mean score of boys and girls on the variables of the parenting styles and attachment.

Table.4. Independent Sample t-test Comparing Gender difference in perceived parenting styles of Students (N=284)

Table 4 shows the groups means which indicates that girls (M=4.35 SD=.450) perceived their parents more authoritative rather than boys (M=3.97, SD=. 510). There is statistically mean difference in authoritative parenting style. The mean scores of another variables authoritarian parenting style shows that boys (M=3.99, SD=.51) perceived their parents more authoritarian rather than girls. The results also reveal that there is statistically significant mean difference in authoritarian parenting style. Boys also showed greater mean score (M=3.07, SD=.642) on permissive parenting style but there is no significant mean difference in permissive parenting styles.

Table 4 also shows the groups means which indicates that girls (M=3.44 SD=.575) showed more mother attachment rather than boys (M=3.42, SD=. 469). There is no statistically mean difference in maternal attachment. Another variables father attachment also showed no statistical mean difference in boys (M=3.36, SD=.490) and girls (M=3.37, SD. 522). The results also reveal there is no statistically significant mean difference in peer attachment. Boys showed greater mean score (M=3.42, SD=.444) on peer attachment rather than girls

4. Discussion

The current study is focused on the impact of parenting styles on the intensity of parental and peer attachment. The study was based on the Baumrind [12] typology of parenting styles and Bowlby attachment theory. Many researchers [36, 40, 45] focused on parenting styles in relation with social development, personality characteristics, and behavioral problems. These researchers suggested that these parenting styles have a definite effect on children’s behavior. Parents usually use one of three parenting styles most of the time. Parent’s sensitive behavior towards their children develops parental attachment in children [33].

Studies (Collins, Maccoby, Steinberg, Hetherington, & Bornstein, 2000, as cited in Kopko [20]) on the relationship of parents and adolescents mentioned the impact of parenting on adolescent’s upbringing. Literature on parenting styles has shown that sensitive and warmth behavior of parents support healthy physical and mental development [13]. So, considering the importance of the impact of parenting styles, the current research is focused on measuring its effects on the development of adolescents own parental and peer attachment.

Colarossi and Ecceles [19] reported that adolescents with supportive parenting show cooperative friendship with their peers. Tanti et al [50] also reported in their study that during adolescence, importance of peer relationship increased. For this reason intensity of peer attachment has also been measured in present study. Parental authority questionnaire (PAQ) and Inventory of parental and peer attachment (IPPA) was used to collect the data from the adolescents.

Standard multiple regressions showed that each parenting style effects differently in intensity on maternal, paternal and peer attachment. Authoritative parenting style positively and highly influences the intensity of maternal and paternal attachment as compared to authoritarian and permissive parenting styles. Previous research work also lined up with this finding. Like [46] also suggested that Children who perceive their parents authoritative feel high attachment with their parents. Another study by [23] also reported that those children who receive better parental involvement always show secure attachment towards their parents. Another study by [32] also suggests that there is a relationship between authoritative parenting style and parental attachment. Chen, Dong, and Zhou [18] in their research explained the connection between authoritative parenting style and parenting practices. Toro [52] reported that authoritative parenting style is highly linked with parental attachment. Heer [26] has also indicated that authoritative parenting style by both parents positively relates with secure parent-child attachment. The reason behind this relationship is the sensitive attitude and involvement of authoritative parents towards their children’s activities. They encourage their children in oral communication, show willingness to discuss every aspect with their children and set few limits for them when they grow up [11]. Authoritative parenting style not only positively relates with parental attachment but the results of the present study also revealed that it also positively related with peer attachment. Dekovik [22] also suggested that positive supportive behavior of parents is the best predictor of satisfactory peer relationships. Helsen, Vollebergh, and Meeus [27] explained that those children who perceived supportive relationship with their parents have tendency to develop a good supportive relationship with their peers

Results of the current research also revealed that Authoritarian parenting style is negatively correlated with the intensity of parental and peer attachment. Karavasilis, Doyle, & Mickiewicz, [32] also support negative relationship between authoritarian parenting style and parental attachment. Authoritarian parenting style is associated with less peer acceptance. Many researchers [46, 47] explained that children of authoritarian parents are characterized by self-reliant behavior. These children are not much accepted by their peer group. Another Chinese research by [55] also suggested that children with authoritarian parents show poor social functioning because of the punitive aspect of the authoritarian parenting style.

Results of the present study also suggest that permissive parenting style is negatively and weakly related with parental and peer attachment. Because permissive parents show few demands, high level of freedom, lack of restriction and use minimal punishment [45]. Akhter [3] also supports this finding in his research which suggests that parental permissive parenting style is linked with negative outcomes because of parent’s neglecting and uninvolved attitude. Western culture also supports that permissive parenting style is linked with negative out comes. Karavasilis, Doyle and Mickiewicz [32] examined that permissive parenting style is associated with avoidant attachment style. This finding is also lined up with another study by [4] concluding that children who perceive their mother as permissive always show avoidant attachment style. Sample of this study is on Indian‘s mother. So researches in other cultures also support the negative relationship between permissive parenting style and parental attachment. The relationship between permissive parenting style and peer attachment as revealed by the current research is weak. So the impact of permissive parenting styles on interpersonal relationship is negative. Study by [54] also suggested that children of permissive parents show less interpersonal relationship.

Independent sample t.test was used to measure the gender differences in sample. Results of the study revealed that girls perceive their parents more authoritative. In Pakistani context a study [31] also suggests that girls perceive their parents more authoritative as compared to other parenting styles. Further results of the present study also indicated that girls show high intensity on the variable of mother attachment rather than on father and peer attachment. Research by [30] in Asian culture also supports this finding that girls show more attachment towards their parents as compared to boys. Huebner [29] indicted that parental attachment is higher in girls. The evidence [29] also suggests that girls and boys exhibit many different behavioral patterns in daily life. Because girls are focused on relatedness attitude means they want to relate with their parents and family. On the other hand boys primarily are focused on self-independency means they want to become self independent. Ali [5] also reported that girls show higher tendency towards parental attachment.

Result of the current research showed that boys perceive their parents more authoritarian as compared to other parenting style. Study by [53] also suggests that boys perceive their parents more authoritarian rather than other parenting style. A study by [21] in Arab society also lined up with this findings that boys perceive their parents more authoritarian. Further result of the present study also mentioned that boys show higher intensity on peer attachment as compared to parental attachment. Mounts & Steinberg [35] said that when children become adolescents they spend much of their time with their peers. Keeping in view the Pakistani culture, girls get more protective environment from their family and spend most of their time with their family. But boys are allowed to spend most of their time with their friends to enhance their socializing behavior and it is not acceptable in cases of girls [31]. Finally the findings of this research have indicated that girls and boys perceive their parents differently in terms of parenting styles they exhibit. Also both boys and girls are different in intensity of attachment with their parents and peers. Moreover, authoritative parenting style effects positively on adolescent attachment and ultimately on interpersonal relationship.

5. Implications & Suggestion

Current study is primarily helpful for dealing with the behavior of adolescents. Especially for socialization of adolescents which would be helpful in further, for the development of healthy community, and peaceful environment. The broader goal of the current study was to understand the association between parenting styles, parental and peer attachment in order to provide the information needed to improve the parental behavior. And to educate parents about the effective ways of grooming up their children. Also to guide parents that how their behavior influences later life of their children when they become adolescents. The findings of the study also, suggest the importance of parenting styles and attachment in context of the gender differences which would especially be beneficial to eliminate the gender differences in upbringing of the children usually shown by parents of Asian culture. A similar kind of study in Western culture is recommended to compare the perception of adolescents and intensity of parental and peers attachment in both cultures.

6. Limitations

The findings of this study must be viewed in the context of its limitation. First thing is related to the generalizability of the findings because the sample was consisted solely of adolescents who were residing in the same city. Demographic variables should also be added in the study.

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