Many children diagnosed with Conduct Disorder (CD) are often viewed as “bad” or delinquent rather than mentally ill. If your child has repetitive and persistent patterns of behavior in which they have great difficulty following rules and behaving in a socially acceptable way, you may want to take a closer look at Conduct Disorder (CD).

Many factors may contribute to a child developing Conduct Disorder include brain damage, child abuse or neglect, genetic vulnerability, school failure and traumatic life experiences.

Adolescents with Conduct Disorder may exhibit some of the following behaviors:

  • Aggression to people and animals
  • Bullying, intimidating others
  • Often initiates physical fights
  • Everyday items used as weapons (e.g. a bat, brick, broken bottle)
  • Destruction of property
  • Sexual activity
  • Having intention to deliberately cause damage
  • Deceitfulness, lying or stealing
  • Runs away from home

Many children with a conduct disorder may have coexisting conditions such as mood disorders, anxiety, PTSD, substance abuse, ADHD and learning problems.

Research shows that children with Conduct Disorder are likely to have ongoing problems if they are not treated in a timely manner. Without treatment, many children with CD are unable to adapt to the demands of adulthood, continue to have relationship problems and difficulty holding a job.

Treatment can be provided in a variety of different ways depending on the severity of the behaviors. Behavior therapy and psychotherapy are usually necessary to help the child appropriately express and control anger. Adolescents with learning disabilities may need Special Education. Home-based treatment programs such as Multisystemic Therapy are effective for helping both the child and family. Medication may also be included in treatment.

If your child is displaying symptoms of Conduct Disorder, it is very important that you seek help from a qualified doctor. Although it may not be possible to prevent Conduct Disorder, recognizing and acting on symptoms when they appear can minimize distress to the child and family.

In addition, providing a nurturing, supportive and consistent home environment with a balance of love and discipline may help reduce symptoms.