OBJECTIVE: The societal changes experienced by Western societies in recent decades have raised concerns about increases in the level of children's mental health problems. Although studies of secular changes in the prevalence of psychiatric diagnoses have indeed shown increases, their results may have been influenced by methodological problems, such as changing diagnostic criteria. Although repeated population studies using identical measures have not indicated such a clear increase in mental health problems, these studies have been limited to school-age children. We therefore investigated changes in Dutch parents' reports of very young children's emotional and behavioral problems over a 14-year period. METHOD: We compared Child Behavior Checklist scores across two Dutch general population samples of 2- and 3-year-olds, one sample assessed in 1989 and one in 2003. RESULTS: Results revealed only a few changes over time, indicating small decreases in parent-reported problems. Between 1989 and 2003, there were decreases in the mean scores and in the proportions of children with deviant scores on the Anxious/Depressed, Total Problems, Internalizing, and DSM-oriented attention-deficit/hyperactivity problems scales. CONCLUSIONS: Despite indications of increasing problems among school-age children and adolescents, parent-reported problem levels of very young Dutch children have not increased. Our findings even showed some small improvements in parents' reports of very young children's functioning between 1989 and 2003. Copyright 2007

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doi.org/10.1097/chi.0b013e3181337532, hdl.handle.net/1765/36248
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Journal
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Tick, N., van der Ende, J., Koot, H., & Verhulst, F. (2007). 14-Year changes in emotional and behavioral problems of very young Dutch children. American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Journal, 46(10), 1333–1340. doi:10.1097/chi.0b013e3181337532