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Military-connected adolescents’ emotional and behavioral risk status: Comparisons of universal screening data and national norms

APA Citation:

Vannest, K. J., Carrero, K. M., Patience, B., Price, G., Altmann, R., Haas, A., & Smith, S. (2021). Military-connected adolescents’ emotional and behavioral risk status: Comparisons of universal screening data and national norms. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 30, 134-145. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-020-01887-y

Abstract Created by REACH:

Previous studies examining differences in emotional and behavioral problems between military and civilian students have produced inconsistent results, in part due to measurement concerns. Using a well-established measure of emotional and behavioral problems, this study compared the risk of emotional and behavioral problems (e.g., worries a lot, easily upset, disrupts others, breaks rules) for military-affiliated students (n = 575) and non-military affiliated students (n = 2,277), while also considering differences across gender and age. Furthermore, the risk of emotional and behavioral problems was compared to the national average. Few differences were observed in the risk of emotional or behavioral problems by military affiliation, but differences were found within the sample based on gender and age and when compared to the national average.


Mental health

Branch of Service:

Multiple branches

Military Affiliation:

Active Duty

Subject Affiliation:

Child of a service member or veteran


Childhood (birth - 12 yrs)
School age (6 - 12 yrs)
Adolescence (13 - 17 yrs)


Quantitative Study
Cross sectional study


Vannest, Kimberly J., Carrero, Kelly M., Patience, Brenda, Price, Georgette, Altmann, Rob, Haas, April, Smith, Stacey


Differences in risk for social, emotional, and behavioral problems in the military dependent and non-military population across gender and age group, were examined using an instrument with established psychometric properties. Schools with an average of 25% military students (two elementary schools and two high schools) were selected based on their student population and absence of tier one or two intervention programming. A total of 3111 students were sampled; data for 2852 participants were available for analysis. Proportion differences across categories of risk indicate no statistically significant difference in risk between military and non-military students within the district overall but differences were found by age and gender. Statistically significant differences were also identified between military-student population national norms. Implications include the use of universal screening to identify sub-groups for targeted programming. Highlights: Research examining the incidence and prevalence of mental health concerns among military-connected children has yet to reach consensus. Very few existing studies use instruments with published psychometric properties; the BASC-2 BESS was used in this study. Results highlight the importance of referencing a nationally normed sample when assessing risk in military children. This sample did not have differences in the risk level of military-dependents when compared to non-military peers.

Publisher/Sponsoring Organization:


Publication Type:

REACH Publication

Author Affiliation:

University of Vermont, KJV
Texas A&M University, KMC
Fidelity Consultation and Evaluation, BP
Bossier Parish Schools, GP
PsychEd, LLC, St. Paul, RA
Life Skills Autism Academy, AH
Baylor University, SS


military children, social emotional behavioral risk, systematic screening, behavior, adolescent psychology, emotions, social problems, families of military personnel, medical screening, mental health

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REACH Publication Type:

Research Summary

REACH Newsletter:

  July 2022

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