PlusFour Solutions: Guidance through Assessment

Behavior Disorders

Conduct Disorder

“Conduct 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.

Children or adolescents with conduct disorder may exhibit some of the following behaviors:

Aggression to People and Animals

  • Bullies, threatens or intimidates others
  • Often initiates physical fights
  • Has used a weapon that could cause serious physical harm to others (e.g. a bat, brick, broken bottle, knife or gun)
  • Is physically cruel to people or animals
  • Steals from a victim while confronting them (e.g. assault)
  • Forces someone into sexual activity

Destruction of Property

  • Deliberately engaged in fire setting with the intention to cause damage
  • Deliberately destroys other’s property

Deceitfulness, Lying, or Stealing

  • Has broken into someone else’s building, house, or car
  • Lies to obtain goods, or favors or to avoid obligations
  • Steals items without confronting a victim (e.g. shoplifting, but without breaking and entering)

Serious Violations of Rules

  • Often stays out at night despite parental objections
  • Runs away from home
  • Often truant from school

Children 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.

Many factors may contribute to a child developing conduct disorder, including brain damage, child abuse, genetic vulnerability, school failure, and traumatic life experiences.