Milica Tošić Radev, Ivana Janković

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Violence in schools is one of the biggest problems faced by children, parents, schools, and society as a whole. The causes of violence are multiple, and the consequences numerous, so it is difficult, and at the same time very important, to find potential strategies to prevent and handle this problem. One of the solutions for prevention and treatment can be derived by the application of the attachment theory, which represents a useful theoretical framework for recognizing and understanding the development of violent behavior, and for dealing with it more effectively. The paper will show how some of the important antecedents of peer violence are formed in the context of early interaction with the primary caregiver. The paper summarizes the research indicating that children with a secure pattern of attachment commit peer violence less often, while children with an avoidant and disorganized attachment pattern are the most common in the group of children who behave aggressively and violently towards others. The negative model of others and the underdevelopment of the capacity for mentalization, as a consequence of rejecting caregiving or mothering in which the mother is perceived as fearful and helpless, are key in understanding the inadequate, often reactive and defensive problematic behaviors of these children. The paper will represent the point of view that in the process of preventing peer violence, a positive, sensitive and empathetic relationship that develops between teachers and students is of great importance, and that a teacher’s capacity for mentalizing is an important segment for developing mentalizing in children.


peer violence, insecure attachment patterns, capacity for mentalization

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