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Antisocial Behavior and Mental Health Problems: Explanatory Factors in Childhood and Adolescence

NCJ Number
Rolf Loeber; David P. Farrington; Magda Stouthamer-Loeber; Welmoet B. Van Kammen
Date Published
338 pages
This book presents findings from the first assessments of the ongoing longitudinal Pittsburgh Youth Study, which were conducted in 1987-88 on 3 samples of boys (n=1,517) in order to identify factors related to any antisocial behavior and mental health problems.
A significant number of boys in this inner city sample engaged in problem behaviors. Major age differences were found between the samples. Different courses of problem behavior were also noted, with some behaviors decreasing with age (depressed mood and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder) while others increased with age (shy/withdrawn behavior, oppositional behavior, conduct problems, serious delinquency, serious substance use, and sexual intercourse). In addition, the study found that different severity levels of delinquency and substance use each unfolded over time in an apparent orderly fashion. The findings were not sufficiently strong to lump all of these behaviors into a single problem behavior syndrome. Multiproblem boys were best predicted by sets of explanatory factors in the domains of child and family and, to a lesser extent, macro variables. Among the child variables, the most powerful explanatory factors were lack of guilt, hyperactivity/impulsivity/attention deficit, low achievement, poor communication (middle and oldest samples), anxiety (middle and oldest samples), and being old for one's grade level. Family factors for multiproblem boys were poor supervision, boy's lack of involvement in family activities, unhappy parents, parent substance-use problems, parent anxiety/depression, and father's behavioral problems. Only a few macro variables were associated with multiproblem boys: low socioeconomic status, family being on welfare, and African-American ethnicity (two samples). The study involved an accelerated longitudinal design with three samples of boys. The youngest sample was first studied at age 7, the middle sample at age 10, and the oldest sample at age 13. This book focuses on the first two assessments. Numerous tables and figures and 323 references