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Predictors of Receiving Counseling in a National Sample of Youth: The Relative Influence of Symptoms, Victimization Exposure, Parent-Child Conflict, and Delinquency

NCJ Number
Date Published
October 2007
16 pages
This study identified factors that predict children’s use of counseling services within a 2-year period.
The results show that boys, children living in single parent and stepfamily households, and those lower in socioeconomic status were most likely to have received counseling for emotional or behavioral problems. The study considered several child characteristics, behaviors, and experiences that were likely to influence caregiver’s perceptions or motivations concerning a child’s need for treatment. Several factors that were considered to influence the responses of adults included: a child’s previous diagnosis, victimization exposure, delinquency behavior, and parent-child conflict. Findings suggest that more counseling should be made available to distressed and victimized children, particularly those who do not engage in high delinquency or conflict, both of which tend to promote referral. Children with mental health problems often do not receive the services they need. Distressed children who manage to avoid trouble at home and school, show adequate academic performance, and who are not conflictive with parents may be least likely to receive help. More effort should be directed towards identifying children who are depressed or anxious but who are “quiet” or “compliant” sufferers. Appropriate services need to be provided to children even if they do not create difficulties for parents or teachers. The findings also suggest that except in the case of younger maltreatment victims, victimized children do not necessarily receive treatment. Victimization in itself, even exposure to high numbers of victimizations does not seem to promote referral to services. Tables, appendices, references

Date Published: October 1, 2007