Indirect Effects of the Fast Track Intervention on Conduct Disorder Symptoms and Callous-Unemotional Traits: Distinct Pathways Involving Discipline and Warmth.
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Little is known about intervening processes that explain how prevention programs improve particular youth antisocial outcomes. We examined whether parental harsh discipline and warmth in childhood differentially account for Fast Track intervention effects on conduct disorder (CD) symptoms and callous-unemotional (CU) traits in early adolescence. Participants included 891 high-risk kindergarteners (69 % male; 51 % African American) from urban and rural United States communities who were randomized into either the Fast Track intervention (n = 445) or non-intervention control (n = 446) groups. The 10-year intervention included parent management training and other services (e.g., social skills training, universal classroom curriculum) targeting various risk factors for the development of conduct problems. Harsh discipline (Grades 1 to 3) and warmth (Grades 1 and 2) were measured using parent responses to vignettes and direct observations of parent-child interaction, respectively. Parents reported on children's CD symptoms in Grade 6 and CU traits in Grade 7. Results demonstrated indirect effects of the Fast Track intervention on reducing risk for youth antisocial outcomes. That is, Fast Track was associated with lower scores on harsh discipline, which in turn predicted decreased levels of CD symptoms. In addition, Fast Track was associated with higher scores on warmth, which in turn predicted reduced levels of CU traits. Our findings inform developmental and intervention models of youth antisocial behavior by providing evidence for the differential role of harsh discipline and warmth in accounting for indirect effects of Fast Track on CD symptoms versus CU traits, respectively.