Date of Submission

Spring 2016

Academic Programs and Concentrations


Project Advisor 1

Sarah Dunphy-Lelii

Abstract/Artist's Statement

Conduct Disorder (CD) is a repetitive and persistent pattern of behavior of that violates age-appropriate norms as well as the rights of others. CD impacts a large number of children, and one explanation for the etiology of this disorder is disruptions in attachment. In this project, I frame an incident of violent youth crime (11-year-old Robert Sandifer) within the context of childhood-onset Conduct Disorder (CD). I match his antisocial behaviors with the DSM-5’s diagnostic criteria of childhood-onset CD. I associate these CD behaviors with familial context, specifically the way he was nurtured (i.e., permissive/neglectful parenting). I propose an intervention to prevent childhood-onset CD, comparing three forms of treatment: A) Standard of Care (SOC), with Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy; B) SOC with Parent Management Training; and C) SOC. Participants will be 1st- through 4th- grade students, scoring in the clinical range for behavioral problems on the Child’s Behavior Checklist or the Teacher’s Report Form, and demonstrating “insecure” attachment (including “dismissing” and “preoccupied” attachment) during the Child Attachment Interview (CAI). Results will show participants’ decrease in problem behaviors and increase in attachment security across all forms of treatment over 2 years. However, Treatment A will prove to be most effective. This result will support the idea that childhood-onset CD can be prevented through development of an empathic, understanding caregiver-child dyad, creating a “secure” base for the child to increase prosocial behavior.

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