Characteristics and profile of boys and girls with emotional and behavioural disorders in Flanders mental health institutes: a quantitative study


Franky D’Oosterlinck, Master in Education, Orthopedagogical Observation and Treatment Centre Nieuwe Vaart, Jozef Guislainstraat 47 and 49, 9000 Ghent, Belgium


Background  In this article, we search for gender differences and outline a detailed gender profile for children and youngsters with emotional and behavioural disorders who are placed in Flemish residential care institutes.

Methods  Data were collected of all placements (517 children) in six residential and semi-residential mental health care centres for children and youngsters with emotional and behavioural disorders in East Flanders, Belgium. File data (gender, age, retention, current treatment, type of referral, education, intelligence, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV-diagnoses and medication use) were gathered. The Child Behaviour Check List (CBCL) was implemented and completed for each child. On the basis of the CBCL, a behaviour profile was developed by means of correlation tables (Pearson correlation coefficient) and cross tabulations. Finally, the profile was compared with the file data of the boys and the girls.

Results  Significant gender differences were found for type of referral, intelligence and diagnoses. The same profile was developed for both genders separately, based on variables Externalizing and Social Problems. The file data associated with the profile groups differ for boys and girls.

Conclusions  The results of our study show the complexity and diversity of the needs of boys and girls with disruptive behaviour in Flemish residential care institutes. Flemish government has to be aware of the fact that the current referral system selects the children with outspoken externalizing and problematic behaviour towards special health care and special schools. They are relegated because the mainstream system is not equipped well enough to cope with their disruptive, aggressive behaviour. Even if governments are in favour of inclusive education, it seems that in practice a rest group is created, in which girls are selected through the same mechanisms as boys, in this case for the same reasons of negative externalizing behaviour and social problems. For this it seems appropriate that school and (semi)-residential institutes apply a specific and adapted methodology.