Economic cost of severe antisocial behaviour in children - and who pays it

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Background Persistent antisocial behaviour is the most common mental health problem in childhood and has widespread effects, yet little is known about what it costs. Aims To identify the costs incurred by children with antisocial behaviour in the UK, and who pays these costs. Method Eighty children aged 3-8 years referred to mental health services were studied using the Client Service Receipt Inventory for Childhood. Results The mean annual total cost was 5960 pound (median 4597, range 48-19 940). The services used were mainly the National Health Service, education and voluntary agencies, but the greatest cost burden, 4637, was borne by the family Higher cost was predicted by more severe behaviour and being male. Conclusions The annual cost of severe antisocial behaviour in childhood in the UK is substantial and widespread, involving several agencies, but the burden falls most heavily on the family. Wider uptake of evidence-based interventions is likely to lead to considerable economic benefits in the short term, and probably even more in the long term
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)547 - 553
Number of pages7
JournalBritish Journal of Psychiatry
Issue numberJUNE
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2006


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