Prolonged aggressive and disruptive behaviour in childhood is a strong risk marker for criminality and mental health problems in adulthood. Early identification of boys with increased risk of problems in the future is therefore important in order to be able to provide specialised initiatives to help them and their families.
Several years ago, help appeared in the form of a checklist called EARL-20B. EARL-20B (Early Assessment Risk List for boys) consists of 20 risk- and need factors, where boys’ anti-social behaviour, family, friends and environment are evaluated. Dr. Pia Enebrink, psychologist and researcher at Karolinska Institutet, Sweden, is one of the first to investigate how well EARL-20B works for boys between the ages of six and twelve.
“The results show that EARL-20B is reliable and useful in evaluating different risk factors and that it can help us identify the boys who really need help, and focus on the risks and needs with which they require help” , says Dr. Enebrink.
The investigation followed 76 Swedish boys in outpatient child psychiatry, and EARL-20B was compared with standard clinical assessments. The boys were followed up after 6 months and again after 30 months.
“EARL-20B is a promising tool for child and youth psychiatry professionals who may make them more secure in their role”, says Dr. Enebrink. “The equivalent tool for assessing risk factors for girls is called EARL-21G, but it has not yet been tested in Sweden.”
Pia Enebrink, Niklas Långström and Clara H Gumpert. “Predicting aggressive and disruptive behavior in referred 6- to 12-year-old boys. Prospective validation of the EARL-20B risk/ needs checklist” in Assessment 2006;13:356-367.