Conduct Disorder

Conduct disorder is a childhood emotional and behavioral disorder characterized by disruptive behavior. Children with conduct disorder have difficulty following rules and behaving in a socially acceptable manner.

  • Causes

    While no specific cause of conduct disorder has been identified, the following are thought to possibly contribute to the development of conduct disorder:

    • Brain damage
    • Genetics
    Prefrontal Cortex
    Prefrontal cortex brain
    This area of the brain is associated with appropriate social behavior. A combination of genetics affecting this area and life experiences may cause conduct disorder.
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  • Definition

    Conduct disorder is a childhood emotional and behavioral disorder characterized by disruptive behavior. Children with conduct disorder have difficulty following rules and behaving in a socially acceptable manner.

  • Diagnosis

    You will be asked about your child’s symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Your child may be referred to a mental health professional for evaluation.

    Diagnosis is based on behaviors that violate social norms or the basic rights of others.

  • Prevention

    If you are concerned your child may be at risk for conduct disorder, talk with your child's doctor about early intervention options.

  • Risk Factors

    Conduct disorder is more likely in male children younger than 18 years old, usually 7-8 years and older.

    The following factors are thought to increase the risk of conduct disorder:

    • A history of child abuse
    • Poor family functioning
    • Family members with substance abuse problems
    • Failure in school
    • Traumatic life experiences

  • Symptoms

    Symptoms of conduct disorder may include:

    • Bullying behavior
    • Physical fights
    • Use of a weapon
    • Physical cruelty to people or animals
    • Stealing or lying
    • Forced sexual activity
    • Deliberate destruction of property
    • Serious violations of rules
    • Starting fires

  • Treatment

    Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for your child. Treatment options include: