The proposed study integrates for the first time the biological components of puberty with the study of antisocial behavior in a longitudinal examination of hormones, psychological attributes, physical maturation and parent characteristics in 7-, 9-, and 11-year-old girls and boys. The importance of the study is derived from the recent statistics showing that the overall crime rate is down but rates in youth continue to increase (United States, Department of Justice, 1999). Past studies have virtually ignored biological processes and the course of antisocial behavior. Even when biosocial processes in antisocial behavior are considered, females tend not to be included.
The specific aims are: (1) to identify the relationship between increases in adrenal androgens and testosterone and increases in antisocial behavior during puberty (2) to establish the effect of gonadal and adrenal hormones, affective symptoms, exposure to violence, peer interactions and parenting on antisocial behavior, (3) to assess the effect of antisocial behavior, affective symptoms, exposure to violence and family functioning on adrenal androgens, testosterone and cortisol and (4) to assess the effect of earlier and later timing of puberty on antisocial behavior and to examine the effects of the interactions between risks for antisocial behavior and timing of puberty on antisocial behavior. Constructs in the model are: Child Risk Attributes (hormones, affective expression, exposure to violence), Timing of Puberty, Parent Risk Attributes (discipline and supervision) and Sex. The participants will consist of a random sample of 400, 7-,9-, and 11-year-old African American and White children and adolescents randomly selected from Allegheny County, PA. The design consists of a cross-sequential (accelerated) longitudinal design with three cohorts followed at 9-month intervals for 4 times of measurement. The study will fill a major void in the literature as it aims to assess both the effect of hormones on behavior and the neurobiological effect of antisocial behavior on hormone concentrations.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Research Project (R01)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-RPHB-3 (05))
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Tuma, Farris K
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Pennsylvania State University
Schools of Allied Health Profes
University Park
United States
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Peckins, Melissa K; Dockray, Samantha; Eckenrode, Jacey L et al. (2012) The longitudinal impact of exposure to violence on cortisol reactivity in adolescents. J Adolesc Health 51:366-72
Susman, Elizabeth J; Dockray, Samantha; Granger, Douglas A et al. (2010) Cortisol and alpha amylase reactivity and timing of puberty: vulnerabilities for antisocial behaviour in young adolescents. Psychoneuroendocrinology 35:557-69
Dockray, Samantha; Susman, Elizabeth J; Dorn, Lorah D (2009) Depression, cortisol reactivity, and obesity in childhood and adolescence. J Adolesc Health 45:344-50