The relationship between childhood aggression and early adolescent aggressive and delinquent behaviours

Criminology Research Council grant ; (4/95-6)

In the context of substantial changes in family types and even family quality over recent times, this study is concerned with the extent to which family type and quality impacts on child behaviour problems. A sample of 8556 pregnant women were enrolled in a longitudinal prospective study. Details of changes in family type and family quality (addressed using Spanier dyadic adjustment scale) were used to predict three second order syndromes developed from the Child Behaviour Check List and administered to the mothers when the child was 5 years of age.

Mothers who experience no partner changes (married and single) report their children to have the lowest rates of child behaviour problems for the three syndromes used in this study. In addition mothers who more often describe their relationship with their partner as poor also report their children to have the highest rate of behaviour problems across all three syndromes. Adjustment for possible confounders does not alter these findings. Both changes of partner and dyadic conflict appear to lead to child behaviour problems, with the latter factor appearing to have a greater impact than the former. Mothers who experience no partner changes and no conflict appear to have children with the lowest behaviour problems.