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The structure of personal safety in the case of preadolescents. An analysis by gender.

The Romanian society is in constant change and transformation in terms of social realities. These realities apply pressure on the education system, a system that is forming, shaping personalities of young people and they would fit the parameters as optimal.

Human personality refers to the availability and features that shape a person's identity. It is a set of moral and intellectual traits, the qualities and skills that characterize how a person's own individuality is compared with others.'

As far as the studies on personality conducted by researchers from psychosocial fields are concerned, we consider that the investigations have been focused on investigating the self. The self is the sum of all individual mental and physical characteristics and mode of assessment. The personal self is a construct through which the individual conceptualizes himself, makes self-evaluation and thus his behavior can be anticipated.

The Ego and the consciousness are complementary, distinct, and coexist in the same time during the individual's life. Self--consciousness is the infrastructure of the Ego, and one of the fundamental assumptions that lead to the formation of the ego is the consciousness, but when it is developed it will raise the consciousness to a higher level of adaptability, energy, and optimality.

W. James was the first who paid attention to the dialectic development of self-consciousness and to the distance between "I" and "Self." The Ego is a fact of the individual consciousness. The Ego and the personality are not identical but are in interaction and interdependence. The self-image is part of the total personality structure The psychological Self whose core is "I" and "Self is twofold and consists of "I" who knows and is aware of "self that is known. (1)

Self-consciousness is formed since early childhood, the premise of self-consciousness being self-identity. This forming takes place in the family environment, where the child lives on the line of gender identity (identifying a number of similarities between the physical characteristics of the parents and their physical characteristics), then through the imitation process the children discover some specific physical attributes of girls or boys. It is therefore important that the family offer to the child a secure development framework, an environment where children feel safe physically and especially emotionally.

Family through its functions assures to the child, since the earliest years of life, the development of a sense of security itself. As the security itself is experienced as a state of psychological comfort, the

person develops his skills, develops a series of strategies through which the self seeks to maintain security. These strategies (specifically language, a personal way of living arrangement, etc.) reflect the degree of personal autonomy and development and are the elements that contribute to the development of self-identity in social life.

As individuals develop and accumulate social experience becoming more complex, their autonomy grows, the search strategies and the maintaining of personal security are nuanced so that they begin to turn into personal safety.

The concept of personal safety has long been assimilated with the confidence of its original development, which is owned to EH. Erikson. Original trust is crucial for the individual development, which will help him to adopt an attitude full of self-confidence, showing courage in facing the difficulties in life or, on the contrary, it will distort the behavior so that any change will frighten him.

Later, in different studies, the concept of personal safety has been assimilated to self-confidence. In reality, the personal safety of self is a higher level of confidence and security and it is at the junction between the self and the personal identity and purpose valued as social behavior.

Any factor or complex of factors that disrupts the personal security leaves its mark on personal safety. Changes in self-safety plan will vary according to age, personality traits, area of origin, social experience and consequences and implications for socio-education.

2. Research

These theoretical aspects that have been presented in a synthetic manner allow us to make a psychological investigation aimed at investigating some of the personal safety features in preadolescents in order to develop better programs for preventing the chronicity of behavioral manifestations in preadolescents.

Our research objectives have been: the investigation of personal safety; the investigation of the signification of personal safety. Based on our objectives and purposes we have made the following research assumptions: we presumed that based on the origin environment, we will find different ways of manifestations of personal safety in preadolescent girls.

The lot of research was made up of 81 preadolescent girls aged between 10-12, from urban and rural areas; this is represented in Figure a.

In our research we used the following methods: the personal safety questionnaire and the non-directive interview.

We will present the collected data regarding of the research method we have used.

2.1 Investigation of personal safety

This aspect of our research has been dwelt with by using the personal safety questionnaire. This instrument has allowed us to see the dynamics of the three types of personal safety in our investigated subjects: the need of personal security type, the insecure type, the realistic type.

The data that have been collected is discussed depending on the origin environment of our investigated subjects.

2.1.1. Investigation of personal safety in girls from urban environment

In Table 1 we present the collected data from girls form urban environment.

We can see that in girls from urban environment the dominant type of personal safety is one that needs personal safety and that means that these subjects are involved in a lot of risky activities as an expression of a massive masked fear. These kinds of behaviors have become a pattern of social communication process and a main feature of establishing personal relationships.Jn fact, these girls have a high level of assuming inutile social risks, as an express need of personal affirmation in social environments.

Another type that is presented is the realistic one. At first sight we can say that these preadolescents have an efficient self-control. But in reality, the realistic type is present in preadolescents who have been learned survival by "street copying mechanisms" and they calculate the risk, based on personal criteria and not objective ones.

2.1.2 Investigation of personal safety in girls from rural environment

In table 2 we present the collected data from girls form rural environment.

The dynamics of these types is presented in figure 2.

As one can see in girls from rural environment, the main type that is presented is the realistic one. We can say that these girls have an efficient self-control. But in reality, the realistic type is based on insufficiently tested criteria, and most of the times they are not objective ones.

Another type that is present is the insecure one. That means that these girls are in constant need of being rewarded and for that reason they will search for the action that might test their strengths.

We can say that the personal safety is the expression of social interaction and it is reflected in specific behavioral patterns.

2.2. The signification of personal safety

By using non-directive interview we wanted to see the signification that the girls from urban and from rural environment attribute to personal safety. It is an analysis on different levels of signification, and at the first level one can find the trigger elements.

2.2.1. The signification of personal safety in girls from urban environment

Levels of analysis     The signification of personal safety

Level 6                The sentiment of emotional security

Level 5                Psychological comfort

Level 4                The need to be part of a social group

Level 3                The need of social recognition

Level 2                The need of be rewarded

Level 1- Trigger elements

2.2.2. The signification of personal safety in girls from rural environment

Levels of analysis     The signification of personal safety

Level 6                The sentiment of emotional security

Level 5                Psychological comfort

Level 4                The need to be socially accepted

Level 3                The need of social recognition

Level 2                The need of personal valorization

Level 1- Trigger elements

We can see that at the top of personal safety, the signification of personal security in girls no matter the origin environment is the same: the sentiment of emotional security. What is different is the trigger element of personal safety signification. Those elements are influenced by the origin environments.


In our paper we have revealed the specific dynamics of personal safety in girls depending on their origin environments. Thus, we have been able to identify some features of this dynamics.

We have also revealed the signification that the interviewed girls attribute to personal safety. The scientific findings confirm the assumption that has been made at the beginning of our research.


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Eysenck, H. J. (1998), Descifrarea comportamentului uman. Bucuresti: Editura Teora.

Golu, M. (2005), Bazelepsihologiei generale. Bucuresti: Editura Universitara.

--(1993), Dinamica personalitafii. Bucuresti: Geneze.

Muntean, A. (2009), Psihologia dezvoltarii umane. Iasi: Polirom.

Nadelman, L. (2004), Research Manual in Child Development. Michigan: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Urea, R. (2011), The Features of Personal Safety in New Social Changes at Romanian Preadolescents with Behavioral Problems, the 5thWorld Congress of the APPAC, Neuropsychiatric, Psychological and Social Updates and Challenges. Athens, 17-20 May 2011.

ROXANA UREA University of Bucharest

Roxana Urea is Lecturer Ph.D. at Bucharest University, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Special Education Department. She has Ph.D. in psychology since 2003, with the thesis: Self-esteem and Social Perception at Pupils with Mental Disabilities. She is an expert: in child's psychodiagnosis, in educational and professional guidance and work capacity assessment, in family counselling of persons with disabilities, in psychology of maladjustment and behavioural deviance, in special education of people with mental disabilities. She is an active representative of Romanian psychology abroad on congresses and conferences in the field of psychology.

Table 1. Types of personal safety in girls from urban environment

No of      Personal safety typology
           The need of         The insecure one   The realistic one
           personal security

41         21                  5                  15
           50,2 %              13%                36,8%

Table 2. Types of personal safety in girls from
rural environment.

No. of     Personal
subjects   safety        The        The
           typology      insecure   realistic
           The need of   one        one

1299       652           169        478
           30,9%         14 %       55,1%

Fig. a. The structure of investigated subjects based on origin

Urban environment    49%
Rural environment    51%

Note: Table made from pie graph.
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Author:Urea, Roxana
Publication:Journal of Research in Gender Studies
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:4EXRO
Date:Jan 1, 2014
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