Identifying and Preventing Psychopathic Behavior in Children
December 29, 2015
Many children are antisocial and have trouble making friends; they even lie and fight, but these traits may indicate a deeper problem that can develop into psychopathy if ignored.
Researchers at the University of New South Wales have found
that some children as young as three years old display callous-unemotional traits (CU traits), demonstrating a distinct lack of emotions.
lists four behavioral indicators for CU traits: lack of remorse or guilt, callous/lack of empathy, lack of concern about performance, and shallow or deficient affect. Two of the four must be present for a diagnosis.
When adults within the criminal justice system have CU traits combined with antisocial behavior, they are labeled psychopaths; therefore, children who exhibit severe conduct problems and CU traits are at an increased risk for developing adult psychopathy, according to the research. These children demonstrate lack of concern or empathy for others, excessive and often inappropriate pursuit of rewards, and poor processing of punishment cues. Such conduct increases the risk of substance abuse, criminal behavior, and educational disruption.
Because CU traits often resemble normal misconduct, punishment is often used as a preventive measure. However, these children are relatively insensitive to punishment, threats, or the distress of others, so
punishment is largely ineffective
. It is more useful to focus on positive reinforcement to encourage positive behavior.
The good news about early diagnosis is that treatment can be effective in reducing levels of antisocial behavior and CU traits. New studies suggest that children with high levels of CU traits respond to warm parenting. For example, it’s better to emphasize what they did well rather than what they did poorly. In addition, another study by
emphasizes that children with CU traits could benefit from training in emotional literacy and emotional recognition.
When considering CU traits, it is important to distinguish between children who are capable of premeditated violence and children whose violence is primarily impulsive and in reaction to a perceived threat.
was the lead author of a study that involved more than 200 children between the ages of three and six. In an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, she said, “Until now we didn’t really have a way to identify those traits in very young children. This is really the first study which uses tools adapted for very young children, and the sooner those children are identified, the earlier they can be helped.”
What do you think? Can psychopathic behavior be identified and prevented in young children? PAR wants to hear from you, so leave a comment and join the conversation!
Share this post:
Now available: Two trauma screening forms for children!
For children, experiencing a traumatic event—such as physical or sexual abuse, neglect, victimization by a peer, the death of a parent, witnessing a violent act, experiencing a natural disaster, and more—can have devastating and lasting psychological effects. According to the National Children’s Alliance, child abuse victims experience trauma symptoms like fear, sleep disturbances, anxiety, and depression at rates verging on those experienced by war veterans. In addition, they are more likely to perform poorly in school, have behavior problems at home, and, left untreated, have poor long-term mental and physical health. Getting these children the help and healing they need has historically relied on the results of a forensic interview. However, clinical intake evaluation results can vary based on the clinician’s training and experience, and the time involved in administering and scoring standardized tests often precludes their use in settings like children’s advocacy centers, which see large numbers of children in relatively short periods of time. The Trauma Symptom Checklist for Children (TSCC) Screening Form and Trauma Symptom Checklist for Young Children (TSCYC) Screening Form were developed based on ...
Reading to Infants and Young Children Important in Developing Reading Motivation
This week’s blog was contributed by PAR Author Adele Eskeles Gottfried, PhD. Dr. Gottfried is the author of the Children’s Academic Intrinsic Motivation Inventory (CAIMI). The study she describes in this blog is part of a broader investigation in which she examines the importance of home environment and parental stimulation on the development of children’s academic intrinsic motivation. In a longitudinal study spanning 28 years, new research just published in Parenting: Science and Practice examined the long-term effect of children’s home literacy environment during infancy and early childhood on their subsequent reading intrinsic motivation and reading achievement from childhood through adolescence and their educational attainment during adulthood. This type of motivation, which is the enjoyment or pleasure inherent in the activity of reading, is found to relate to various aspects of children’s literacy behaviors. Literacy environment was assessed from infancy through preschool using the amount of time mothers read to their children and the number of books and reading materials in the home. Analyzing the data using a statistical model, the study examined literacy environment as it related to children’s reading ...
PAR Author Gerard Gioia Named Caregiver of the Year by the Children’s Miracle Network
Dr. Gerard Gioia was honored by the Children’s Miracle Network with the Children’s Miracle Achievement Award last week at the charity’s annual celebration in Orlando, Florida. Dr. Gioia was named as one of three caregivers of the year for his work and research on concussions. Dr. Gioia is a pediatric neuropsychologist and chief of the division of pediatric neuropsychology at Children’s National Medical Center, the local Children’s Miracle Network hospital for the metropolitan Washington, DC area. Dr. Gioia’s work with the Safe Concussion Outcome, Recovery, and Education (SCORE) program centers on improving the way concussions in youth are treated as well as helping teachers, parents, coaches, and doctors to determine when it is safe for children to return to both school and play. Concussions make up between 80 and 90 percent of all brain injuries in the United States and account for more than 1,000,000 emergency room visits each year. PAR congratulates Dr. Gioia on this achievement! Dr. Gioia is coauthor of the Tasks of Executive Control™ (TEC™), the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function® (BRIEF®), the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive ...
Diagnosing and Treating ADHD in Younger Children: New Guidelines
Guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics released in October suggest that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder can be diagnosed and treated in children as young as age 4, two years younger than the previous minimum age set by AAP a decade ago. Mark Wolraich, the lead author of the ADHD clinical practice guidelines and a professor of pediatrics at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, told the Wall Street Journal recently that ADHD in a preschool-aged child is very different from the typically active behavior seen in most young children (www.online.wsj.com, October 17). A child with ADHD often doesn’t play well with other children, is prone to accidents, and is overactive much of the time. “It's not the environmental things like parties triggering it,” Dr. Wolraich says. According to the new guidelines, behavior management should be the first approach for treating preschool-aged children. But when behavioral interventions aren’t enough, the guidelines suggest that doctors consider prescribing methylphenidate (commonly known by the brand name Ritalin) for preschool-aged children with moderate to severe symptoms. Other key recommendations include assessing children for other ...
Why Children Bully: New Research Links Bullying to Mental Health Problems
A great deal of research over the years has focused on the devastating effects of bullying on the mental health of its victims. However, a recent study also suggests that children with mental disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), and depression are much more likely to engage in bullying behavior toward others. Lead author Dr. Frances Turcotte-Benedict, a Brown University masters of public health student and a fellow at Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence, presented the findings at the American Academy of Pediatrics’ national conference in New Orleans on October 22. Turcotte-Benedict and her colleagues reviewed data provided by parents and guardians on mental health and bullying in the 2007 National Survey of Children’s Health, which included nearly 64,000 children ages 6 to 17 years. In the survey, 15.2 percent of children were identified as a bully by their parent or guardian. Children with a diagnosis of depression or ADHD were three times as likely to be identified as bullies; children diagnosed with ODD were identified as bullies six times more often than children with ...
Five things to know about the Trauma Symptom Checklist for Young Children (TSCYC)
You may know the Trauma Symptom Checklist for Young Children (TSCYC) evaluates acute and chronic posttraumatic symptomatology in young children in just 15 to 20 minutes. Here are five things you may not know. The TSCYC is the first fully standardized and normed broadband trauma measure for young children ages 3-12 years who have been exposed to traumatic events such as child abuse, peer assault, and community violence. The TSCYC is customizable: The test features a caretaker report that rates symptoms observed during the previous month and includes separate profile forms for males and females in three age groups: ages 3-4 years, ages 5-9 years, and ages 10-12 years. The TSCYC is reliable and valid: It meets the new 2017 standards for use in Children’s Advocacy Centers. The TSCYC has free online training. Get up to speed quickly with a short instructional video describing the administration, scoring, and interpretation of the TSCYC—available at no charge on the PAR ...
About PAR (60)
Community PARtners (24)
Meet the Author (23)
New Products (80)
PAR Author (63)
PAR Staff (37)
Sometimes a screener is just what you need
ASCA: On the way to LA!
Now available: Two trauma screening forms for children!
Development of a novel approach to assessing reading comprehension
PAR exhibits at two conferences this week!
Read More »
career interest inventory
post-traumatic stress disorder