Conduct Disorder
Conduct Disorder (CD) is the most serious childhood psychiatric
disorder. Approximately 6-10% of boys and 2-9% of girls suffer with this

Here is the definition of Conduct Disorder:

A.   A repetitive and persistent pattern of behavior in which the basic rights of others or major society
rules are violated. At least three of the following criteria must be present in the last 12 months, and at
least one criterion must have been present in the last 6 months.

Aggression to people and animals--
·   often bullies, threatens, or intimidates others
·   often initiates physical fights
·   has used a weapon that can cause serious physical harm to others
·   physically cruel to animals
·   physically cruel to people
·   has stolen while confronting a victim

Destruction of property--
·   has deliberately engaged in fire setting with the intention of causing serious damage
·   has deliberately destroyed other's property other than by fire setting

Deceitfulness or theft--
·   has broken into someone else's house, building or car
·   often lies to obtain goods or favors or to avoid work
·   has stolen items of nontrivial value without confronting a victim

Serious violations of rules--
·   often stays out at night despite parental prohibitions, beginning before 13 years of age
·   has run away from home overnight at least twice without returning home for a lengthy period
·   often skips school before age 13

B.   The above problem causes significant impairment in social , academic, and occupational functioning.

If a child has Conduct Disorder, there are safety concerns. Sometimes it is the personal safety of others
in the school, family, or community. Sometimes it is the safety of the possessions of other people in the
school, family or community. Often the safety of the child with Conduct Disorder is a great concern. If
you have a child with Conduct Disorder in your home, most likely you do not feel entirely safe. Or, you
do not feel that your things are entirely safe. It is the hardest pediatric disorder to live with as a sibling,
parent, or foster parent. Nothing else even comes close.

It is very common to see children with Conduct Disorder plus another one or two diagnoses. By far the
most common combination is Conduct Disorder and ADHD. Between 30-50% of children with Conduct
Disorder will also have ADHD. Another common combination is Conduct Disorder and depression or
anxiety. One quarter to one half of children with Conduct Disorder have either an anxiety disorder or
depression. Conduct Disorder plus substance abuse is also very common. Also common are associations
with Learning Disorders, bipolar disorder and Tourettes Syndrome.

About 30% of Conduct Disorder children continue with similar problems in adulthood. It is more
common for males to continue on into adulthood with these types of problems than females. Females
with Conduct Disorder more often end up having mood and anxiety disorders as adults. Substance
abuse is very high. About 50-70% of ten-year-olds with Conduct Disorder will be abusing substances
four years later. Cigarette smoking is also very high.

A recent study of girls with Conduct Disorder showed that they have much worse physical health.
Girls with Conduct Disorder were almost 6 times more likely to abuse drugs or alcohol, eight times
more likely to smoke cigarettes daily, where almost twice as likely to have sexually transmitted
diseases, had twice the number of sexual partners, and were three times as likely to become pregnant
when compared to girls without conduct disorder.

It is not unusual to see signs of stress in the parents and other siblings when a child has Conduct
Disorder. One of the hardest questions is figuring out whether or not difficulties in the family are
causing Conduct Disorder or whether the stress of Conduct Disorder is causing family problems.  

Caring for a child with Conduct Disorder can take a lot out of anyone, especially if you are one of the
main people the child is trying to aggravate. These children require an incredible amount of patience,
energy, and determination. Often this is more than any one or two human beings can provide. There is
no natural law that states that all children can be managed by one or two reasonable parents. Many
children are born who require three to five full-time parents. You may have one!

Who in your family can take care of this child reasonably well for an hour, a day, a weekend, week?
Often there are cousins, aunts, uncles, good friends, fathers, mothers, or grandparents who can take a
disturbed child for a while, but not a long while. By putting a few of these together, you can get a little
breathing space.

The most common mistake people make in this situation is to think they should be able to do it all
themselves. They then either end up giving up the child or getting so mad at the child that it would have
been better if they had given up the child to someone else. Don't be proud. ==>
Get some help.
Cognitive Behavioral Approaches to Treating
Children and Adolescents with Conduct Disorder