Child Behavior Checklist

Purpose: Designed to assess "social competence" and "behavior problems" in children.

Population: Ages 4-18.

Score: Five scale scores.

Time: Not reported.

Authors: Thomas M. Achenbach and Craig Edelbrock.

Publisher: Thomas M. Achenbach.

Description: The Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) was designed to address the problem of defining child behavior problems empirically. It is based on a careful review of the literature and carefully conducted empirical studies. It is designed to assess in a standardized format the behavioral problems and social competencies of children as reported by parents.

Scoring: The CBCL can be self-administered or administered by an interviewer. It consists of 118 items related to behavior problems which are scored on a 3-point scale ranging from not true to often true of the child. There are also 20 social competency items used to obtain parents’ reports of the amount and quality of their child’s participation in sports, hobbies, games, activities, organizations, jobs and chores, friendships, how well the child gets along with others and plays and works by him/herself, and school functioning.

Reliability: Individual item intraclass correlations (ICC) of greater than .90 were obtained "between item scores obtained from mothers filling out the CBCL at 1-week intervals, mothers and fathers filling out the CBCL on their clinically-referred children, and three different interviewers obtaining CBCLs from parents of demographically matched triads of children." Stability of ICCs over a 3-month period were .84 for behavior problems and .97 for social competencies. Test-retest reliability of mothers’ ratings were .89. Some differences were found between mothers’ and fathers’ individual ratings.

Validity: Several studies have supported the construct validity of the instrument. Tests of criterion-related validity using clinical status as the criterion (referred/non-referred) also support the validity of the instrument. Importantly, demographic variables such as race and SES accounted for a relatively small proportion of score variance.

Norms: Normative data, obtained from parents of 1,300 children, were heterogeneous with respect to race and socioeconomic status and were proportionate to the composition of the general U.S. population.

Suggested Uses: It is suggested that the CBCL is a viable tool for assessing a child’s behaviors, via parent report, in a clinical or research environment.