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Continuity and desistance in disruptive boys' early fighting at school

  • Rolf Loeber (a1), Richard E. Tremblay (a2), Claude Gagnon (a2) and Pierre Charlebois (a2)


Disruptive boys in kindergarten, selected from teacher ratings in a large study, were each followed up for four successive years. There was considerable continuity of the boys' fighting, despite a declining prevalence in fighting over the years. High oppositional behavior in one year did not consistently predict fighting in the next year. A history of fighting was associated with being held back in grade. Boys were assigned to fighting evolution status on the basis of their fighting scores over the four years: stable high fighters, desisting high fighters, and variable/initiating high fighters. Stable high fighters, unlike desisting high fighters, scored high on nonaggressive antisocial acts at the end of the four years. For some boys, cessation of fighting was associated with later nonaggressive antisocial behavior. Fighting evolution status was examined further in relationship to anxiety, hyperactivity/inattentiveness, and prosocial behaviors. At age 9, stable high fighters, and to a lesser extent variable/initiating high fighters, were more likely to come from single parent families than desisting high fighters. The results are discussed in the context of the development of conduct problems in children.


Corresponding author

Address reprint requests to: Rolf Loeber, WPIC, 3811 O'Hara St., Pittsburgh, PA 15213.


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