Conduct issues are becoming a global problem for parents, educators, and children. They usually first appear and early childhood and can be identified through behavioral and psychological screenings, such as the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ). The issues that arise from conduct problems include anger, aggression, hostility, academic challenges, social problems, and other behavioral and emotional issues.
Although the SDQ has been shown to be effective at identifying symptoms of conduct disorder, it is lengthy and time consuming. Therefore, Melissa E. Duncombe of the Psychological Sciences Department at the University of Melbourne in Australia wanted to see if an alternative brief assessment would be as effective and provide results that are equal to that of the SDQ.
For her study, Duncombe used the Conduct Problems Risk Screen (CPRS), a seven-item scale, to identify conduct problems in a group of over 4,700 elementary school children. Because traits found in oppositional defiance (ODD) and attention-deficit hyperactivity (ADHD) have been shown to be precursors for later conduct problems, the CPRS was designed to reveal any specific inattentive or aggressive behaviors as well.
Parents and teachers reported their evaluations of children, and Duncombe found that although there was a much higher rating of conduct issues in the parents’ reports, the overall consistency between the two groups was high. Duncombe believes that parents may witness more behavioral problems and may also incorporate family reactions, disciplinary consequences, and other factors into their assessments when filling out the CPRS. Teachers, on the other hand, can only report on what they witness and experience during the school day.
Another strength of the CPRS is that it only takes a few minutes to administer. Unlike the lengthy SDQ, the CPRS can be completed in under two minutes, and may be viewed as more applicable tool with younger children. This can be especially important for early identification of the children at risk for later conduct, ADHD, or ODD issues. Dunscombe added, “The CPRS is a valid and reliable instrument and could be used effectively as a screening tool to identify those children at risk of developing conduct disorder.”
Duncombe, Melissa E., Sophie S. Havighurst, Kerry A. Holland, and Emma J. Frankling. (2012). Psychometric evaluation of a brief parent- and teacher-rated screen for children at risk of conduct disorder. Australian Journal of Educational & Developmental Psychology 12 (2012): 1-11. Print.
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