Conduct disorder is a serious behavioral and emotional disorder that can occur in children and teens. A child with this disorder may display a pattern of disruptive and violent behaviour and have problems following rules. Young people with this condition can be cruel and violent towards others, including pets and other animals. They may be destructive, breaking and damaging property.
The behavior associated with conduct disorder is not limited to occasional outbursts. It is consistent and repetitive, occurring frequently enough that it interferes with the child’s education, family life, and social life.
There are three types of conduct disorder. They’re categorized according to the age at which symptoms of the disorder first occur:
- Childhood onset occurs when the signs of conduct disorder appear before age 10.
- Adolescent onset occurs when the signs of conduct disorder appear during the teenage years.
- Unspecified onset means the age at which conduct disorder first occurs is unknown.
Symptoms of conduct disorder vary depending on the age of the child and whether the disorder is mild, moderate, or severe. In general, symptoms of conduct disorder fall into four general categories:
1. Aggressive behaviour
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.
2. Destructive behaviour
This involves intentional destruction of property such as arson and vandalism
3. Deceitful behaviour
This may include repeated lying, shoplifting, or breaking into homes or cars in order to steal.
4. 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.
- being male
- living in an urban environment
- living in poverty
- having a family history of conduct disorder
- having a family history of mental illness
- having other psychiatric disorders
- having parents who abuse drugs or alcohol
- having a dysfunctional home environment
- having a history of experiencing traumatic events
- being abused or neglected
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