In a study reported in the March, 2004 Journal of the Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the researcher, Dr. W. Alex Mason, found that behavior at age 10 - 11 is predictive of latter life problems with depression, violence, and social phobia.
A child's behavior during the preteen years may predict whether he or she will experience depression, violent behavior or social phobia as a young adult, new research findings suggest.
In a decade-long study, the researchers collected data for 765 children between the ages of 10 and 11 years old. At follow-up, they found that those who reported fighting, stealing or other conduct problems were almost four times as likely as their more well-behaved peers to have experienced depression or violent behavior by 21 years old.
Not to be a smart ass, but I have found that any observant adult can watch a classroom of 3rd graders for 30 minutes and predict which kids will have problems in the coming years. I know I can because I have done it.
Identifying those troubled, or to be troubled kids is not hard in my experience. What is more difficult is developing and implementing strategies to help them so that they avoid problems in the future.
Schools are not meant to be therapeutic, and troubled kids usually do not get help from their families. So what to do?
School based mental health services might be part of the answer but they are the first programs cut when the school budget comes up for a vote. However, many studies show that for every dollar spent on preventive services, 7 dollars is saved in later criminal justice, health care, and social welfare costs. However, these costs get shifted to other sectors, from education to health care, from health care to criminal justice, from criminal justice to social welfare, and so every body is "passing the buck". The ones who get stuck, usually in the end, are the taxpayers. But they voted "no" on the school budget cutting these services to begin with.
My concern here is not just academic. GCASA, which provides prevention services in the schools, was cut out of two schools this year, not because we weren't doing good work, but because the schools were in a real crunch and having to lay off teachers and other staff, and they couldn't justify continuing to pay for prevention services when they are laying off teachers. I have no quarrel with school superintendents and school boards who made these decisions, but I say to myself, "If the taxpayers only knew" what will happen ten years from now.
In the United States we are one of the stingiest when it comes to spending money on our kids. They are seen as primarily the parents responsibility and as a society we wash our hands of them and go our way until we see the grissly reports we can tsk tsk tsk about on the 6:00 PM news.
The research says we can identify who these kids are. The question which research can't answer is what do we, as a society, want to do about them?
MedlinePlus: Behavior at Age 10 May Predict Later Depression