Current evidence suggests that multiple pathways of “early-starting” conduct problems exist, including persisting and declining trajectories. Since little is known about the early-onset-declining pathway, this study examined the long-term outcomes of different childhood conduct problem trajectories in a disproportionately high-risk sample (n = 754). Parents reported on children’s conduct problems at six time points (kindergarten to grade 7). At age 25, a broad range of psychosocial outcomes was assessed. Four childhood conduct problem trajectories were identified: low-decreasing (LD), moderate-decreasing (MD), high-stable (HS), and extremely-high-increasing (EHI). The EHI and HS groups displayed the poorest psychosocial functioning at age 25, whereas the LD group exhibited the most positive adjustment. Although individuals in the MD group displayed relatively positive adjustment on some outcomes, they displayed more psychopathology, more risky sexual behaviour, and lower well-being in adulthood than the LD group. These findings suggest that all early starters are at risk for later maladjustment.
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Thesis advisor: McMahon, Robert
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