The Importance of Examining Positive Relationships in Risk Assessment for Children with Antisocial Behaviour
Kanter, Deborah Anne Slack
MetadataShow full item record
When researchers and clinicians assess a childs risk for future antisocial behaviour, they often take a risk-focussed approach and fail to acknowledge the importance of protective factors, such as positive relationships. In the present study, I examined the moderating role of positive relationships in the association between overall risk and criminal and mental health outcomes. Participants were 256 boys and 176 girls who participated in Stop Now and Plan (SNAP), a gender-specific evidence-based program for children age 6-11 at risk of future antisocial behaviour. The Early Assessment Risk Lists (EARLs) were used to calculate risk scores and positive relationship scores. Criminal outcomes were determined from a criminal records search and mental health outcomes were gathered from parental report on the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL). Results for boys indicated that overall risk predicted criminal outcomes, and positive relationships reduced the likelihood of criminal outcomes across all levels of risk with a somewhat greater impact at higher levels of risk. Overall risk did not predict mental health outcomes; however, there was some support for positive relationships as a moderator between overall risk and mental health outcomes. These hypotheses were not confirmed for girls and reasons for these gender differences are discussed. Taken together, these findings suggest that it would be valuable to add positive relationships into risk assessment tools, particularly for boys. Positive relationships should continue to be a focus in intervention programs, particularly for boys at high levels of risk. Finally, girls should continue to be studied separately from boys as their unique trajectories still need to be understood.