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A preventative intervention for disruptive young boys may reduce adult criminality by reducing antisocial behaviour in adolescence

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Question: How does a preventative intervention for disruptive boys reduce adult criminality?

Patients: In total, 250 boys of low-socioeconomic status in kindergarten (age 7 years) who scored above the 70th percentile on the disruptiveness scale of the Social Behaviour Questionnaire. Boys had to be born to Canadian born parents who spoke French as their first language and who had 14 or fewer years of education.

Setting: Montreal, Canada; intervention performed between September 1985 and June 1987, outcomes assessed in 2003.

Intervention: Preventive intervention (n=69), attention control (n=123) or no-treatment no-contact control (n=58) over two school years. The intervention targeted the children, their parents and teachers. Children attended social skills, problem solving and self-control strategies training in a small group format involving prosocial peers (three prosocial children per disruptive child). Parents were trained in fortnightly sessions to monitor their child's behaviour, positively reinforce prosocial behaviour, punish effectively without being abusive, manage family crises and to generalise what they learnt. Teachers attended meetings aimed …

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  • Sources of funding: The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Fonds Québécois de la Recherche sur la Société et la Culture, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and the Fonds de Recherche en Santé de Québec.


  • Competing interests None.