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Antisocial Behavior

Antisocial behavior in children is associated with social impairment and psychological dysfunction, such as oppositional/defiant disorders, conduct disorders, and antisocial personality disorders. These disorders often involve engaging in delinquent behavior, but they are far from synonymous with criminal activity. In preschoolers, antisocial behavior can include temper tantrums, quarreling with peers, and physical aggression (i.e., hitting, kicking, biting). Parents often report difficulties in handling and controlling the child. Comorbidity (visible problems that may not be the child's only problem) is often found because antisocial behavior is associated with hyperactivity, depression, and reading difficulties. Follow-up studies indicate that antisocial behavior in toddlers often decreases with age, as children learn to control their behavior or benefit from the intervention of professionals in the field. Individual differences dictate the tendency of children to engage in antisocial behavior, and this tendency may change over time according to the overall level of antisocial behavior, situational variations, and the persistence or nonpersistence of antisocial behavior as individuals grow older.

See also: ACTING OUT


McCord, Joan, and Richard Tremblay, eds. Preventing Antisocial Behavior: Interventions from Birth through Adolescence. New York: Guilford Press, 1992.

Moffitt, T. E. "Adolescence-Limited and Life-Course-Persistent Antisocial Behaviour: A Developmental Taxonomy." Psychological Review 100, no. 4 (1993):674-701.

Rutter, Michael, Henri Giller, and Ann Hagell. Antisocial Behaviour by Young People. Cambridge, Eng.: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

Tremblay, Richard. "The Development of Aggressive Behaviour during Childhood: What Have We Learned in the Past Century?"International Journal of Behavioral Development 24 (2000):129-141.

Anne I. H. Borge

Additional topics

Social Issues ReferenceChild Development Reference - Vol 1