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Emotional and Behavioral Disorders (EBD) result from various factors; mostly, potential causative factors may entail variables linked to family, social, biological and community aspects. Hence, the establishment of past and present medical history, including past and present health care givers, should be identified and their qualifications examined as an inherent aspect of evaluating causal factors of EBD.

Significantly, documentation and interviews of past examinations should be part of the evaluation process and subsequent recommendations. The causes of EBD in students vary as a result of their different incidents and medical histories; therefore, it is critical for educators to identify the causal factors of EBD to develop appropriate intervention models for the EBD students.

Biological Causal Factors

Causative factors relating to biological aspects can significantly provide explanation in case psychological evaluations are inconclusive. Children have defined psychological and biological tendencies; however, they are malleable to social and educational stimuli. Additionally, genetics have been linked with various emotional and behavioral disorders.

 Antisocial behavior in students has been observed where parents do not allocate adequate time to spend with their children being involved in social activities; parents use abusive and excessive punishment and are unable to show affection or love to their children, more so, when children illustrate good behavior. Children have a tendency to repeat what their parents do; in particular, they repeat their parents’ routines and behavior, and essentially become their parents.

Family Causal Factors

The family characterizes the environment that primarily influences children in their initial years. Before children are exposed to other environments such as the school, they experience various factors in the family setting that contribute to the prediction of their behavior. Equally, children’s behavior may impact their parent’s behavior. For instance, a child’s behavior may impact the stress levels in the family setting; hence such behavior can potentially increase the risk of dysfunction and discord within the family.

Significantly, the increasing numbers of single parent families resulting from divorce and unmarried mothers are among the contributors to family causal factors of EBD. These are accompanied by contributory factors such as interpersonal conflicts, economic difficulties, increasing drug and alcohol use, abuse and neglect. In light of these, it is critical that educators and school administrators take into consideration their students’ home environments as significant contributors to school conduct and performance. Hence, educators should not undermine the impact of the family and its role in a student’s EBD.

Social Causal Factors

Since children spend a significant amount of time in the school and home environments; they are exposed to various social factors which might influence their behavior. In the event that a child has age-inappropriate and negative tendencies such as physical violence, depression and tantrums, more so, in the preschool environment; it is likely that such a child will continue to illustrate similar behavioral tendencies in school. Erratic behavior and emotional tendencies often lead to social rejection as a consequence of persistent behavioral transgressions. These culminate to disciplinary action being taken against erratic students, which may influence students with EBD negatively.

Cultural Causal Factors

Cultural factors may be characterized as inherent social interactions that influence children’s behavior. In result of exposure to various prejudices, expectations and attitudes, children imitate or adapt constructive and destructive behavioral traits. In light of this, educators must make a resolute effort to eradicate bias on the basis of a student’s cultural background in the evaluation process. Significantly, educators should acknowledge the existence of cultural disparities while interacting with students suffering from EBD.

Behavior Intervention

Children suffering from EBD have been observed to be significantly heterogeneous; hence, varied conceptual intervention models have been employed for intervention purposes.  The numerous complex and impetuous problematic behaviors demonstrated by students with EBD are behavioral deficits or excesses (Yell, Meadows, Drasgow, & Shriner, 2009). However, there exist various models to select from while designing and implementation of behavioral interventions and education. These models entail biological, psycho-dynamic, behavioral, humanistic, psycho-educational and ecological models, as well as social-cognitive model, which is widely used in modern intervention processes.

The psycho-dynamic models are premised on a hypothesis of pathological disproportion in an individual’s Ego, Super ego and Id; hence this model is inherently a psychoanalytic model. The biogenic/biological model is based on the premise that behavior is a resulting factor of neurophysiological activities and mechanisms; as such, it may opt for surgical or drug therapies in the resolution of negative or erratic behaviors (Yell et al., 2009). Meanwhile, a humanistic model pays attention to an individual’s surrounding through a criterion based on experiential learning. Humanistic intervention model requires heightened intellectual skills aimed at developing awareness of an individual’s behavior, thoughts, outcomes and interactions. This model is based on the belief that behavior is a reaction to environmental predispositions. Hence, it concentrates on altering consequent or precursor events in order to obtain more acceptable and positive behaviors.

The fundamental assumption is that people are socially intertwined; therefore, human interactions significantly predetermine behaviors. The psycho-educational intervention model functions on the basis that a student’s behavior is influenced by unconscious conflicts and motivations that intervene in their routine prerequisites of a student’s life. As such, an educator’s function is to sensitize the student by creating awareness of negative behavior and influence their thoughts in terms of alternatives and outcomes; thus change their initial responses towards positive results in the future (Merrell & Walker, 2004). A significant number of practitioners in the Emotional and Behavioral Disorders field incorporate concepts, definitions and methodologies, from behaviorism in their application of the social-cognitive model.

Nevertheless, given that behaviorism fails to explain the complexities and intricacies of the human experience in total, the social cognitive-theory attempts to integrate the cognition and environmental roles in elucidating an individual’s behavior. The social-cognitive theory critically evaluates the reciprocal impacts of individual-based variables, behavior and environment while seeking to facilitate a significant understanding and interpretation of the ways in which social context and personal agency influence decisions. Therefore, focused future initiatives should not be tailored to exclude the minimal number of students with EBD from receiving critical services, such as education. However, concern should be premised on the development of improved service delivery systems aimed at enhancing the outcomes and benefits for EBD students (Merrell & Walker, 2004).


The causes of EBD in students vary as a result of their different incidents and medical histories; therefore, it is critical for educators to identify the causal factors of EBD to develop appropriate intervention models for the EBD students. The varied causes of EBD create a complex challenge of determining the primary against the secondary causal factors and subsequent tertiary remedial factors. Schools are obligated to influence society and families through their intervention. Occasionally, a causal factor may not be manifest at first, or if it has manifested, a reasonable remedial course may not be feasible.

 Therefore, facts, scientific inquiry and unbiased interpretations and assessments should be balanced to facilitate the development of an optimal strategy for behavior intervention, which is integrated in an educational model. While an individual’s intelligence is not subject to variations, except as a consequence of unfortunate disease or accident, a person’s behavior can be changed through education and intervention entailing rigorous cognitive and proactive strategies such as social skills training.

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