Childhood and Adolescent Taxon Scale (CATS)

Introduction

The Childhood and Adolescent Taxon Scale (CATS) worksheet was originally created to accompany the Violence Risk Appraisal Guide (VRAG) and the Sex Offender Risk Appraisal Guide (SORAG). Although the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R; Hare, 1991) can be used to assess psychopathy, there are many situations where a Psychologist or other individual trained in the administration of this tool is not available. In this situation, the CATS tool can be used to assess psychopathy instead.

Quinsey et. al. (2006) determined that the CATS tool is an appropriate replacement for the PCL-R assessment when determining psychopathy on the VRAG and SORAG assessments. Lister (2010) examined the CATS and found that there were no differences in rates of psychopathy as determined by the PCL-R and the CATS with Caucasian and African-American individuals.

Conduct Disorder Symptoms

In order to answer question 4 below, it’s necessary to identify how many conduct disorder symptoms are present.

Count those present those that occurred before age 16 except for items 13 and 15 which are before aged 16:

  1. Often bullied, threatened or intimidated others
  2. Often initiated physical fights
  3. Used a weapon that could cause serious physical harm to others (e.g., a bat, brick, broken bottle, knife, gun)
  4. Was physically cruel to people
  5. Was physically cruel to animals
  6. Stolen while confronting a victim (e.g., mugging, purse snatching, extortion, robbery)
  7. Forced someone into sexual activity
  8. Deliberately engaged in fire setting with the intention of causing serious damage
  9. Deliberately destroyed others’ property (other than by fire setting)
  10. Broken into someone else’s house, car, or building
  11. Often lied to obtain goods or favors or to avoid obligations (i.e., “cons” others)
  12. Stolen items of nontrivial value without confronting a victim (like shoplifting, theft, or forgery)
  13. Before [age] 13, stayed out late at night, despite parental prohibitions
  14. Ran away from home overnight (or longer) at least twice while living in parental or parental surrogate home (or once without returning for a lengthy period)
  15. Before [age] 13, was often truant from school

Childhood & Adolescent Taxon Scale (CATS) Items

The CATS scale has 8 items that are reviewed below, along with supplementary scoring guidelines.

Elementary School Maladjustment

This refers to the first 8 years of formal schooling after kindgarten. A couple of incidents of truancy, smoking on school property or other minor incidents like this would be classified as Mild or Moderate. Severe incidents include repeated truancy or violent actions like assault. Also included in Severe is actions that result in criminal convictions like selling drugs at school.

  • 0 – No Problems
  • 0 – Slight (Minor discipline or attendance) or Moderate Problems
  • 1 – Severe Problems (Frequent disruptive behavior and/or attendance or behavior resulting in expulsion or serious suspensions)

Teenage Alcohol Problem

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism produces a guide to screening and intervening with youth (NIAAA, 2015) who consume alcohol. Their screening and assessment rubric can be used to determine if there is a teenage alcohol problem.

Based on the empirically determined risk guidelines, someone who is 12-15 and drinks more than 6 days in the past year would indicate a 1 below, someone who is 16 and drinks more than 12 days in the last year, someone who is 17 would need to drink more than 24 days while an individual who is 18 or higher would need to drink more than 52 days a year.

  • 0 – No
  • 1 – Yes

Childhood Aggression Rating

  • 0 – No Evidence of Aggression
  • 0 – Occasional Moderate Aggression
  • 1 – Occasional or Frequent Extreme Aggression

More Than 3 DSM Conduct Disorder Symptoms

These are the conduct disorder symptoms filled out below.

  • 0 – No
  • 1 – Yes

Ever suspended or expelled from school

  • 0 – No
  • 1 – Yes

Arrested under the age of 16

  • 0 – No
  • 1 – Yes

Lived with both biological parents to age 16 (except for death of parents)

Separation for more than one month is required for coding a “no” on this item. This could be because of institutionalization, divorce, or other separations but does not include death of one or both parents.

  • 0 – Yes
  • 1 – No

Scoring the CATS

Each of these items will result in a 0 or 1 score. All items are summed and the value can then be used to complete Item 12.b on the VRAG or item 14b on the SORAG.

References

American Psychological Association. (2006) Quinsey, V.L., Harris, G.T., Rice, M.E. & Cormier, C.A. (2006) 2nd Ed. Violent Offenders: Appraising and Managing Risk. Washington D.C: American Psychological Association.

Hare, R.D. (1991) The Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (Hare PCL-R). Toronto: Multi-Health Systems.

Lister, M.B. (2010) A Comparison of the Violence Risk Appraisal Guide, Psychopathy Checklist, and child and Adolescent Taxon Scale: Predictive Utility And Cross Cultural Generalizable. Dissertation.

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). (2015). Alcohol Screening and Brief Intervention for Youth: A Practitioner’s Guide. Retrieved on January 28, 2017 from https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/Practitioner/YouthGuide/YouthGuide.pdf

Cite this article as: MacDonald, D.K., (2017), "Childhood and Adolescent Taxon Scale (CATS)," retrieved on November 17, 2017 from http://dustinkmacdonald.com/childhood-adolescent-taxon-scale-cats/.
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