alexa Internalizing and externalizing children’s behaviour problems in Britain and the U.S. Relationships to family resources.


Journal of Child and Adolescent Behavior

Author(s): McCulloch A, Wiggins RD, Joshi HE, Sachdev D

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A large sample of British children (n=994) of varying ages (7–18 years) and a large sample of American children (n=886) of varying ages (7–16 years) were rated by their mothers using respectively the Rutter Child Scale A and the Behaviour Problems Index both of which cover a variety of behavioural problems. Factor analysis of the behavioural scales distinguished externalising and internalising dimensions of behaviour in both countries. We examined whether children's experiences of family change, cognitive ability and family adversity including economic deprivation were associated with differences in the prevalence of the behavioural dimensions. Mean cognitive scores decreased significantly with increasing level of externalising behavioural problems in British and American children but showed no significant relationship to levels of internalising behaviour problems in either sample. Among American children internalising and externalising behavioural problems were related to experience of non-intact family structures and measures of family adversity. Externalising behavioural problems were related to measures of family adversity among British boys and girls but were only related to experience of non-intact family structures in the sample of British girls. Among British girls, internalising behavioural problems were also related to non-intact family structures. The associations between non-intact family structures and behavioural problems were independent of measures of economic deprivation in both samples of children. This study documents some of the background factors which affect children's behavioural and cognitive outcomes. Unlike children's family structure economic deprivation can be influenced through policy intervention, and the analysis supports the view that relieving economic deprivation would help improve children's behavioural outcomes. Copyright © 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. This article was published in Children & Society and referenced in Journal of Child and Adolescent Behavior

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