Physical aggression declines for the majority of children from preschool to elementary school. Although this desistance generally continues during adolescence and early adulthood, a small group of children maintain a high level of physical aggression over time and develop other serious overt and covert antisocial behaviors. Typically, researchers have examined relations of developmental changes in physical aggression to later violence with teachers' or mothers' reports on surveys. Little is known about the degree to which children's self-reported physical aggression predicts later antisocial behavior. The longitudinal study in this article had a staggered, multiple cohort design. Measures of physical aggression were collected through self- and mother reports from age 11-14 years, which were used to construct trajectory groups (attrition was 6 and 14% from age 11-14, respectively, for self- and mother reports). Overt and covert antisocial behaviors were self-reported at age 18-19 years (attrition was 36% from age 11 to 18-19). Four trajectory groups (low stable, 11%; moderate-low declining, 34%; moderate declining, 39%; high stable, 16%) were identified from self-reports, whereas three trajectories (low declining, 33%; moderate declining, 49%; high stable, 18%) were identified from mothers' ratings. We examined the prediction of overt and covert antisocial behaviors in early adulthood from the high stable and the moderate declining trajectories. According to both informants, higher probability of belonging to the high stable group was associated with higher overt and covert antisocial behavior, whereas higher probability of belonging to the moderate declining group was associated with higher covert antisocial behavior. Our results support the value of children's as well as mothers' reports of children's aggression for predicting different types of serious antisocial behavior in adulthood.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health