Preventing Conduct Disorder and Callous Unemotional Traits: Preliminary Results of a School Based Pilot Training Program
SourceJournal of Abnormal Child Psychology
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This study investigated whether a school-based pilot prevention program is effective in reducing Conduct Disorder (CD) symptoms and callous unemotional (CU) traits (i.e., lack of empathy and guilt) in a community sample of children. A total of 304 children from three schools in Cyprus were randomly assigned at school level to either a prevention group that received a skill building training program (N = 94M age = 7.91, SD = .7452.1% female) or a control group that received no training (N = 210M age = 7.82, SD = .8150.5% female). To evaluate the effectiveness of the program, CD symptoms and CU traits were assessed before the implementation of the training program and at 3 and 9 months after training. Additionally, the child's impulsivity, parental involvement and friend support were assessed pre- and post-prevention. Significant post-training reductions in CU traits were identified for the prevention, but not the control, group at both 3-month and 9-month follow-ups and in CD symptoms at the 9 month follow-up. Furthermore, children in the prevention group scored lower on impulsivity and higher on paternal involvement and friend support compared to the control group after participating in the training program. This study provides preliminary evidence that child focused training delivered in the school setting can provide lasting benefits by preventing the development of CU traits, impulsivity, and CD. The program was also successful in improving the child's social relationships with peers and parents. These findings emphasize the importance of school based prevention efforts.