disorder" is a complicated group of behavioral and emotional
problems in youngsters. Children and adolescents with this
disorder have great difficulty following rules and behaving
in a socially acceptable way. They are often viewed by other
children, adults and social agencies as "bad" or delinquent,
rather than mentally ill.
or adolescents with conduct disorder may exhibit some of the
Aggression to people and animals
threatens or intimidates others
initiates physical fights
used a weapon that could cause serious physical harm to
others (e.g. a bat, brick, broken bottle, knife or gun)
physically cruel to people or animals
from a victim while confronting them (e.g. assault)
someone into sexual activity
lying, or stealing
engaged in fire setting with the intention to cause damage
destroys other's property
violations of rules
broken into someone else's building, house, or car
to obtain goods, or favors or to avoid obligations
items without confronting a victim (e.g. shoplifting, but
without breaking and entering)
stays out at night despite parental objections
away from home
truant from school
who exhibit these behaviors should receive a comprehensive
evaluation. Many children with a conduct disorder may have
coexisting conditions such as mood disorders, anxiety, PTSD,
substance abuse, ADHD, learning problems, or thought disorders
which can also be treated. Research shows that youngsters
with conduct disorder are likely to have ongoing problems
if they and their families do not receive early and comprehensive
treatment. Without treatment, many youngsters with conduct
disorder are unable to adapt to the demands of adulthood and
continue to have problems with relationships and holding a
job. They often break laws or behave in an antisocial manner.
may contribute to a child developing conduct disorder, including
brain damage, child abuse, genetic vulnerability, school failure,
and traumatic life experiences.
of children with conduct disorder can be complex and challenging.
Treatment can be provided in a variety of different settings
depending on the severity of the behaviors. Adding to the
challenge of treatment are the child's uncooperative attitude,
fear and distrust of adults. In developing a comprehensive
treatment plan, a child and adolescent psychiatrist may use
information from the child, family, teachers, and other medical
specialities to understand the causes of the disorder.
therapy and psychotherapy are usually necessary to help the
child appropriately express and control anger. Special education
may be needed for youngsters with learning disabilities. Parents
often need expert assistance in devising and carrying out
special management and educational programs in the home and
at school. Treatment may also include medication in some youngsters,
such as those with difficulty paying attention, impulse problems,
or those with depression.
is rarely brief since establishing new attitudes and behavior
patterns takes time. However, early treatment offers a child
a better chance for considerable improvement and hope for
a more successful future.
information see Facts for Families:
#3 Teens: Alcohol and Other Drugs
#55 Understanding Violent Behavior in Children and Adolescents
#72 Children with Oppositional Defiant Disorder
#6 Children Who Can't Pay Attention
#12 Children Who Steal, and
#38 Manic-Depressive Illness in Teens.
See also: Your Child (1998 Harper Collins)/Your
Adolescent (1999 Harper Collins).
#33 Updated 01/00