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Conduct Disorder Information and Help Options

Outline: Information on bad adolescent behavior conduct disorder or juvenile delinquency in teens and youth.

Main Digest

It is estimated that 5% of children show serious conduct problems, being described as impulsive, over-active, and aggressive and engaging in delinquent behavior.

Conduct disorder is a psychiatric category marked by a pattern of repetitive behavior wherein the rights of others or social norms are violated. Symptoms of Conduct disorder include verbal and physical aggression, cruel behavior toward people and pets, destructive behavior, lying, truancy, vandalism, and theft. Youth's with conduct disorder not only inflict serious physical and psychological harm on others, but they are at greatly increased risk for incarceration, injury, depression, substance abuse, and death by homicide and suicide. After the age of 18, a conduct disorder may develop into antisocial personality disorder, which is related to psychopathy.

A closely linked behavior is juvenile delinquency. This term refers to an adolescent's tendency to break the law or to engage in illicit behavior, a broad concept that ranges from littering to murder. Some suggested causes of delinquency are heredity, identity problems, community influences, and family experiences.

Conduct disorder is also known as a "disruptive behavior disorder" because of its impact on children and their families, neighbors, and schools. Children with conduct disorder repeatedly violate the personal or property rights of others and the basic expectations of society. A diagnosis of conduct disorder is likely when symptoms continue for 6 months or longer.

Conduct disorder tends to co-occur with a number of other emotional and behavioral disorders of childhood, particularly Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Mood Disorders (such as depression).

Another disruptive behavior disorder, called oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), when a child has an major aversion to authority, may be a precursor of conduct disorder. After the age of 18 conduct disorder may develop into anti-social personality disorder, which is related to psychopathy. Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD or APD) is defined by the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual as "a pervasive pattern of disregard for, and violation of, the rights of others that begins in childhood or early adolescence and continues into adulthood." To be diagnosed, an individual must be age 18 or older, as well as have a documented history of a conduct disorder before the age of 15. People having antisocial personality disorder are sometimes referred to as "sociopaths" and "psychopaths."

Signs of conduct disorder include:

Aggressive behavior that causes or threatens harm to other people or animals, such as bullying or intimidating others, often initiating physical fights, or being physically cruel to animals.

Several scholars have proposed that lack of empathy and empathic concern (callous disregard for the welfare of others) is an important risk factor for conduct disorder.

Some child and adolescent behaviors are hard to change after they have become ingrained. Therefore, the earlier the conduct disorder is identified and treated, the better the chance for success.

Although conduct disorder is one of the most difficult behavior disorders to treat, young people often benefit from a range of services that include:

In addition to the challenge of Conduct disorder treatment is the child's own un-cooperative attitude, fear and distrust of adults. In developing a treatment plan, a child and adolescent mental health professional may use information from the child, family, teachers, and other medical specialties to understand the causes of the Conduct disorder.

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