Conduct Disorder

Conduct disorder is a repetitive and persistent pattern of behavior in children and adolescents in which the rights of others or basic social rules are violated. Conduct Disorder is a disorder usually seen in children and adolescents (age of onset between ages 6 and 16), marked by the appearance of insensitivity or disregard for the thoughts or feelings of other individuals, impulsivity and being difficult to control. The child or adolescent usually exhibits these behavior patterns in a variety of settings—at home, at school, and in social situations—and they cause significant impairment in his or her social, academic, and family functioning. Children typically do not try to hide their behavior and often have difficulty maintaining peer relationships.

Behaviors characteristic of conduct disorder include:

Aggressive behavior:

  • These are behaviors that threaten or cause physical harm and may include fighting, bullying, being cruel to others or animals, using weapons, and forcing another into sexual activity.

Destructive behavior:

  • This involves intentional destruction of property such as arson (deliberate fire-setting) and vandalism (harming another person’s property).

Deceitful behavior:

  • This may include repeated lying, shoplifting, or breaking into homes or cars in order to steal.

Violation of rules:

  • This involves going against accepted rules of society or engaging in behavior that is not appropriate for the person’s age. These behaviors may include running away, skipping school, playing pranks, or being sexually active at a very young age.

The disturbance in behavior causes clinically significant impairment in social, academic, or occupational functioning. In addition, many children with conduct disorder are irritable, have low self-esteem, and tend to throw frequent temper tantrums. Some may abuse drugs and alcohol. Children with conduct disorder often are unable to appreciate how their behavior can hurt others and generally have little guilt or remorse about hurting others.

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