, Volume 24, Issue 5, pp 533-553

Factors associated with continuity and changes in disruptive behavior patterns between childhood and adolescence

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The relationships between disruptive behaviors in middle childhood (7 to 9 years) and conduct disorder in adolescence (14 to 16 years) were studied in a birth cohort of New Zealand children. Latent class analysis suggested strong behavioral continuity, with children showing early disruptive behaviors having odds of adolescent conduct disorder that were over 16 times higher than children who did not display early disruptive behavior. Nonetheless, in the region of 12% of children showed a discontinuous history, with 5% of children showing an early onset of conduct problems and later remission while 7% showed later onset conduct problems. Children showing discontinuous histories of behavior problems came from backgrounds in which levels of risk were intermediate between those of children who showed a persistent pattern of conduct problems and those who were consistently nonproblem children. Peer factors played an influential role in behavioral change in adolescence, with individuals showing late onset of conduct problems having high rates of affiliation with delinquent peers but those showing remission of problem behaviors in adolescence having relatively low rates of such affiliations.

This research was funded by grants from the Health Research Council of New Zealand, the National Child Health Research Foundation, and the Canterbury Medical Research Foundation.