Background: The impact of childhood antisocial behaviour on future maladaptation has been acknowledged. Risk-taking has been associated with antisocial behaviour in adolescents and adults, but its association with childhood antisocial behaviour is understudied. In this study, we explored the association of children's risk-taking with antisocial behaviour in mainstream elementary schoolchildren studied longitudinally across 7-11 years.
Methods: One thousand and eighty-six children (51% boys) were assessed in three annual waves. Antisocial behaviours (aggressive, covert antisocial and oppositional defiant behaviour) were assessed using teacher- and peer-reports. Risk-taking was measured using the Balloon Analogue Risk Task (BART). The association of antisocial behaviour with risk-taking was analysed using parallel growth models.
Results: Children with higher levels of risk-taking at age 7 showed increased growth in peer-reported aggression from age 7 to 11. Risk-taking, that is increased levels at age 7 in boys and increased growth in girls, predicted increased growth in peer-reported oppositional defiant behaviour. Associations of risk-taking with teacher-reported aggression and covert antisocial behaviour were at trend level.
Conclusions: Results indicated that already in childhood, among typically developing children, risk-taking is associated with the development of antisocial behaviour. Future research focused on antisocial behaviour, but also school mental health workers and clinicians should take into account that already in childhood, risk-taking might affect antisocial behaviour development.
Keywords: Aggression; children; covert antisocial behaviour; oppositional defiant behaviour; risk-taking.
© 2018 The Authors. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health.