A better start for antisocial children

UNSW researchers will assess the impact of a new state-of-the-art treatment program targeting the emotional health of antisocial children and their families.

Antisocial kids page

UNSW researchers will assess the impact of a new state-of-the-art treatment program targeting the emotional health of antisocial children and their families.

Funded by the federal government's Healthy Start to Life for All Australian Awards, the trial will involve 1,000 children aged six to 16 years of age over a three-year period.

Antisocial children can exhibit an array of behaviours including aggression, deliberate rule-breaking, stealing, lying and disobedience.

The first of its kind program will match children to tailored treatments based on a thorough assessment of their social and emotional characteristics.

"There is strong research evidence to suggest a genetic vulnerability to antisocial traits among children," says research leader, UNSW child psychologist, Dr Mark Dadds. "We believe that these vulnerabilities can be turned on in particular family settings, and may lead to ongoing problems in adulthood, such as criminality, depression and substance use."

The clinical trial, which has received $472,000 in federal funding, will be structured into two areas. First, UNSW researchers will identify genetic and behavioural subtypes of early-onset conduct disorders. Second, they will match children and their families to innovative treatments based on the latest evidence of successful programs.

More information: Professor Mark Dadds, 02-9385 3538

For more information about A Healthy Start to Life for All Australians, go to the NHMRC website.