A form of antisocial behavior characterized by extremely disobedient behavior in children, including vandalism, theft, lying, and drug use. Typically diagnosed in young boys, conduct disorders are characterized by antisocial behavior and patterns of “acting out” at home or at school. The child may have difficulty learning how to solve problems or establish peer relationships. As many as one in 10 children and adolescents may have a conduct disorder.
Individuals with conduct disorder are more likely to attract attention from teachers and parents, to be referred for services, and to receive some treatment at an early age for their misbehavior.
There is a high correlation between conduct disorder and ATTENTION DEFICIT HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER (ADHD). Individuals with both disorders are particularly at risk for continuing social and emotional difficulties into adulthood.
Research suggests that the most severe cases of conduct disorder begin in early childhood, especially in the presence of inconsistent rules and harsh discipline, lack of enough supervision or guidance, frequent change in caregivers, poverty, neglect or abuse, and a delinquent peer group.
Because antisocial behavior in children and adolescents is very hard to change after it has become ingrained, the earlier the problem is identified and treated the better. Some recent studies have focused on promising ways to prevent conduct disorder among children and adolescents who are at risk for developing the disorder, since most children with conduct disorder are probably reacting to events and situations in their lives.