Girls' childhood trajectories of disruptive behavior predict adjustment problems in early adolescence

Elsa van der Molen*, Arjan A. J. Blokland, Alison E. Hipwell, Robert R. J. M. Vermeiren, Theo A. H. Doreleijers, Rolf Loeber

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

13 Citations (Web of Science)


It is widely recognized that early onset of disruptive behavior is linked to a variety of detrimental outcomes in males, later in life. In contrast, little is known about the association between girls' childhood trajectories of disruptive behavior and adjustment problems in early adolescence.This study used nine waves of data from the ongoing Pittsburgh Girls Study. A semiparametric group-based model was used to identify trajectories of disruptive behavior in 1,513 girls from age 6 to 12 years. Adjustment problems were characterized by depression, self-harm, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), substance use, interpersonal aggression, sexual behavior, affiliation with delinquent peers, and academic achievement at ages 13 and 14.Three trajectories of childhood disruptive behavior were identified: low, medium, and high. Girls in the high group were at increased risk for depression, self-harm, PTSD, illegal substance use, interpersonal aggression, early and risky sexual behavior, and lower academic achievement. The likelihood of multiple adjustment problems increased with trajectories reflecting higher levels of disruptive behavior.Girls following the high childhood trajectory of disruptive behavior require early intervention programs to prevent multiple, adverse outcomes in adolescence and further escalation in adulthood.? 2014 Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)766-773
JournalJournal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2015


  • Girls
  • disruptive behavior
  • trajectories
  • adjustment problems

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