The utility of elementary school TOCA-R scores in identifying later criminal court violence among adolescent females

Hanno Petras, Nicholas Ialongo, Sharon F. Lambert, Sandra Barrueco, Cindy M. Schaeffer, Howard Chilcoat, Sheppard Kellam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Objective: To evaluate the utility of a teacher-rating instrument (Teacher Observation of Classroom Adaptation-Revised [TOCA-R]) of aggressive behavior during elementary school years in identifying girls at risk of later criminal court violence. Method: A community epidemiological sample of 845 urban public school girls was rated at six time points during elementary school regarding their level of aggressive/disruptive behavior (75% of whom were African American). Criminal violence was measured using juvenile court records. Logistic regression was used to study the strength of the association between early indicators of aggressive behavior and adolescent females' violent outcomes. An extension of the traditional receiver operating characteristics analysis was used to study the accuracy of identifying girls at risk of violence under three different screening and intervention scenarios. Results: For girls, teacher ratings of aggression were a strong and consistent predictor of later violence across grades 1-5 and were strongest in fifth grade. Three screening scenarios were compared to determine the optimal identification threshold. The screening scenario with a focus on minimizing false negatives yielded the highest value (K = 0.803). Conclusions: This study supports other studies indicating that early levels of aggressive behavior are strong and robust predictors of later violence among girls but are of limited utility in the early identification of girls at risk, especially when the focus is on reducing both false positives and negatives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)790-797
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2005


  • Aggressive/disruptive behavior
  • Gender differences
  • Screening
  • Youth violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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