Behavioural problems: not just for boys

Girls with behavioural problems in childhood run a high risk later on of experiencing a series of negative events that will have an impact on their interpersonal relations, health and integration in school and in society. Yet, due to the relatively low prevalence of early behavioural problems in girls, little information is available on the characteristics of these girls and the pertinence of the help they receive.

The work of the Équipe de recherche sur les difficultés de comportement des jeunes (Research Team on Behavioural Problems in Children), directed by Jean Toupin from Université de Sherbrooke, on a group more than 650 students between the ages of six and nine from disadvantaged environments, has shown that three to four times fewer girls receive complementary educational services than their male counterparts with similar behavioural problems. Another study has shown that the behavioural problems of girls who receive specialized services in elementary school are more serious than those of boys. This longitudinal study involving 510 students also highlights the fact that girls are often exposed to greater risks than boys at school and in society, while the intensity of the services they receive at school are the same in the two cases.

Finally, the research team has also conducted an evaluation of a cognitive behavioural program for teenage girls in youth protection centres. While the significant effects of this type of program on behavioural problems are well documented, they are almost exclusively reserved for boys. This study involving 319 girls shows that the program produces a clinically significant reduction in violent behaviour in teenage girls, thus demonstrating the importance of taking into account indicators that are sensitive to gender differences.

In summary, the team's work is contributing to a better understanding of the extent to which the needs of girls are specific and require adjustments to current programs and services.


Équipe de recherche sur les difficultés de comportement des jeunes


Jean Toupin, Université de Sherbrooke

Regular members

  • Marc Bigras, Université du Québec à Montréal
  • Michèle Déry, Université de Sherbrooke
  • Nadine Lanctôt, Université de Sherbrooke
  • Jean-Pascal Lemelin, Université de Sherbrooke
  • Daniel Paquette, Université de Montréal
  • Pierrette Verlaan, Université de Sherbrooke