Conduct disorder is a severe disruptive behavior disorder diagnosed when behavior is consistently antisocial and aggressive. Children and teens with conduct disorder behave in destructive ways that violate others’ rights and are not typical among others their age.
Conduct disorder may be present when a pattern of behavior is severe, lasts at least 12 months, and affects a child or teen’s ability to relate to others and function well in daily life.
Conduct disorder may include these behaviors:
- Bullying and threatening others
- Initiating physical fights
- Sexual aggression
- Harming animals
- Using a weapon to harm others
- Deliberate destruction of property
- Deliberate fire-setting
- Breaking into a car, house, or other building
- Lying or deceiving to manipulate others
- Frequently skipping school
- Running away from home or staying out at night despite parents’ rule
- Lack of remorse
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents consult their child’s doctor if they are concerned about aggressive behavior, especially if a child has caused physical injury to himself or others, or if parents fear for their safety or feel unable to cope with their child’s behavior.
Research suggests that the most successful interventions for conduct disorder are multimodal, meaning that several approaches are combined to address the various areas of a child’s life and meet his particular needs. A multimodal approach may involve parent education and skill-building, individual and family therapy, and therapy in the school setting. It is important that a treatment program be consistent and long term, as it takes time to learn new behaviors and skills such as problem solving, empathy, and anger management. This treatment is important for the safety and well-being of the child and others. Untreated, conduct disorder can become antisocial personality disorder in adulthood, unless a child has an opportunity to learn new skills and behavior.