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Aggressive Children Often Not Referred to Agencies for Help

Only half of parents say they received the referrals providers report giving

TUESDAY, May 2 (HealthDay News) -- About 3.7 percent of children are referred to specialists or community agencies for help with aggressive behavior although 12 percent of parents are concerned that their child is too aggressive, according to research presented during the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies in San Francisco.

Shari Barkin, M.D., of the Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C., and colleagues surveyed 47 clinicians and 1,093 parents of children aged 2 to 11 years in 22 states and Puerto Rico and Canada. The subjects were part of the Pediatric Research in Office Settings Network (PROS).

Twenty-one clinicians (45 percent) made referrals for 40 (3.7 percent) patients. In 38 percent of cases, the parents requested the referral, and 12 percent of parents were concerned that their child was more aggressive than peers. In all, 35.5 percent of referrals were to mental health professionals, 35.5 percent were to local agencies and 24 percent were to developmental specialists. Six percent of referrals were for parenting classes. Only half of the parents confirmed that they actually received the referral the providers had reported giving them.

"Training clinicians to utilize local agency resources for childhood aggression is necessary, but not sufficient for creating community links for this purpose," the authors write. "Parents and providers have limited agreement that a referral has been provided."

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