Families bear cost of bad behaviour

The average annual cost of severe antisocial behaviour in childhood totals almost 6,000, with the burden falling most heavily on the family, according to a study.

Families estimated they spent eight hours a week on household tasks because of the child’s behaviour, which also caused outlays on extra house repairs and days off work, it found.

The study, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, looked at 80 children aged three to eight, who had been referred to mental health services and had particularly disruptive behaviour.

Families bore almost 80 per cent of the costs, with the rest falling on the NHS, social services, education and voluntary bodies.

The authors of the survey, who are from the Institute of Psychiatry and the London School of Economics, called for greater investment in parenting programmes and on treating conduct disorders in children.

They said child and adolescent mental health services were too focused on life-threatening disorders, such as depression or psychosis.


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