Abstract: Callous-unemotional (CU) traits (i.e., lack of empathy/guilt/concern for others) have proven useful for identifying a unique subgroup of antisocial youths at risk for severe, persistent, and impairing conduct problems attributed to distinct etiological processes. Several tools for measuring CU traits alone or as part of a broader assessment of psychopathy exist but none have established cutoffs for making categorical decisions about youth. The aim of the present study was to establish clinically meaningful cut-off scores on the parent-reported Inventory of Callous-Unemotional Traits (ICU) for the purpose of identifying children with high stable co-occurring conduct problems and CU traits (CP+CU), while balancing costs of false positives and false negatives. Participants included 1,370 school-aged (M age = 9.38, SD = 1.64 at baseline) boys and girls followed prospectively over 18 months. Several statistical indices were applied to establish optimal cut-off scores for identifying those 2.3% of children on a trajectory of high stable co-occurring CP+CU according to latent class growth analyses. Results indicated that within the full sample, children scored at or above the identified cut-off scores, 24 for mother-report and 27 for father-report, on the ICU were also significantly more likely to engage in future self-reported bullying compared to children scored below. With encouraging evidence for the success of nuanced treatments for children with CP+CU, these findings are intended to assist in screening children that might benefit from them.
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