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New tool predicts violence in kids

Scientists have developed a new tool that could improve treatment and prevention of aggressive behavior by children and adolescents in schools and in the community.

india Updated: Jun 14, 2011 17:05 IST

Scientists have developed a new tool that could improve treatment and prevention of aggressive behavior by children and adolescents in schools and in the community.

Researchers hope that the ‘Brief Rating of the Child and Adolescent Aggression’ (BRACHA) tool could serve as ''biomarkers of aggression''.

"Using the BRACHA could help hospitals cut down on violence," said Drew Barzman, a child and adolescent forensic psychiatrist at Cincinnati Children's and lead author of the study.

The study involved administering the BRACHA questionnaire on 418 children and teens before they were hospitalized on psychiatric units at Cincinnati Children's.

A total of 292 aggressive acts were committed by 120 of the hospitalized patients (or 29 percent). Fourteen of the 16 items on the survey were significantly associated with aggression by children and teens.

"The BRACHA may ultimately help doctors improve safety in hospitals, reduce the use of seclusion and restraint in the inpatient setting and focus interventions on reducing aggression-related risk," says Dr. Barzman.

"The long-term goal is to prevent kids from going down a criminal path. If we can find high risk children before they become involved with the juvenile justice system, which is why we are studying 7 to 9 year olds, we can hopefully provide more effective treatment and prevention,” he added.

The study has been published online in the Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law.