Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Health & Parenting

Font Size

Bad Behavior in Boys: When It Leads to Trouble Down the Road

WebMD Health News

Sept. 24, 1999 (Atlanta) -- Contrary to popular opinion and the experts' prevailing wisdom, disruptive boys generally do not grow up to be disruptive adolescents, according to the findings of a study published in the September/October issue of Child Development. But the researchers found that the boys who displayed physical aggression as children were more prone to violent behavior in their teens.

"We found that many boys who had behavioral problems when they started school became better adjusted as they grew older," says lead author Daniel Nagin, PhD, from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. "Our findings suggests when you are focusing and concerned about later violent behavior, what seems to be very important is the presence of violent physical aggression during childhood years. Violence, particularly serious violence, is not the kind of thing that tends to emerge from nowhere -- it tends to be part of an ongoing pattern," Nagin tells WebMD.

In 1984, Nagin and his colleague Richard Tremblay, from the University of Montreal, began studying a group of more than 1,000 French-speaking, nonimmigrant white boys from 53 schools in low socioeconomic areas in Montreal. The boys were all in kindergarten at the time (around 6 years old). Their teachers were asked to rate them on physical aggression (kicks, bites, hits, fights, bullies), on opposition or defiant behavior (doesn't share; is inconsiderate, irritable, disobedient; blames others), and on hyperactivity (fidgets, squirms, can't sit still).

Their teachers rated the boys again at ages 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, and 15. Then, at ages 15, 16, and 17, the subjects themselves filled out questionnaires about delinquent and violent behavior. Additionally, their official juvenile records were opened and reviewed after they turned 18.

"Boys who display high levels of hyperactivity in their childhood, but not of physical aggression, don't seem to be at greater risk for being violent later on in life. I think this is important, particularly for parents, because there is a general fear out there that hyperactivity is associated with bad ends of all sorts," Nagin says.

Nagin says this misconception may have arisen because most of the studies that examined disruptive behavior in children tended to lump together different types of behavior, like hyperactivity and physical and verbal aggression. Because of these broadly defined categories, many studies concluded that any troublesome behavior during childhood predicts violence in adolescence and adulthood. But as these researchers point out, "this does not mean that these other problem behaviors are equivalently predictive of physical violence later in life."

Today on WebMD

Girl holding up card with BMI written
Is your child at a healthy weight?
toddler climbing
What happens in your child’s second year.
father and son with laundry basket
Get your kids to help around the house.
boy frowning at brocolli
Tips for dealing with mealtime mayhem
mother and daughter talking
child brushing his teeth
Sipping hot tea
Young woman holding lip at dentists office
Which Vaccines Do Adults Need
rl with friends
tissue box
Child with adhd