Most every child, at some point in their life, has heard their parents talk about their conduct.  If the child's bad conduct and behavior is severe enough and constantly occurring, it may be Conduct Disorder (CD).  This disorder may severely impair the child's performance at school, cause problems at home, and impair their everyday functioning. Many of the children with CD will suffer from Antisocial Personality Disorder as an adult.

CD has been grouped into four main categories.  These are:

If the child's conduct is continuous, and their pattern of behavior includes constantly infringing on other people's basic rights of what society considers normal, and the child has displayed three of the four categories of CD numerous times over the course of a year, the child may have CD and need proper treatment.  Although CD is primarily diagnosed in young children, it may also be diagnosed in young adults in their late teens and is often times confused as Antisocial Personality Disorder when the person is over 18 years of age.

CD has two subtypes.  The first is when the child is normally under the age of 10.  Most often, it is a male that displays aggression frequently and may have suffered from Oppositional Defiant Disorder early on in their childhood.  The children of this subtype are likely to have persistent Conduct Disorder and more often than not, will suffer from Antisocial Personality Disorder as an adult.  The second subtype happens after age 10.  The children with this type of CD display less aggressive behavior and are less likely to develop Antisocial Personality Disorder, and are mainly female.

A study conducted in 1994, by the Phelps Research Firm concludes that six percent of American children suffer from CD.  They also found that geographic location may determine the percentage of children with CD.  For example, fourteen percent of the children in Chicago that were tested had a moderate level of CD.  The same age group of children that were tested in a rural community in Missouri showed only four percent of the children with moderate CD.

Research has shown several factors that may contribute to CD, such as:

  • neurological impairment
  • family history of CD
  • observing the way the parents respond to them and mimicking that behavior in other social situations
  • pressure to perform well in school
  • maternal depression
  • alcohol, drug abuse or antisocial behavior in parents
  • violence in the home
  • parents getting divorced
  • sudden death of a parent

Research also showed the majority of children with CD come from a family where the parents have few parenting skills.  These parents are often severe in their punishment of the child for the child's bad behavior. 

The size of the family and birth order is believed to be a factor in CD due to the fact that male children, coming from large families, make up the majority of the males with CD subtype 1. 

Treatment for CD consists of two primary objectives.  The first is prevention which is directed towards the onset of the disorder even though the child has not displayed the full effects of CD.  Receiving treatment at this point will help reduce the severity of CD.  The second focuses on developing skills for the child, family, teachers, and anyone else who plays a major role in the child's life.  This type of treatment includes cognitive and behavioral therapy.

The child is taught a new set of skills to aid them in their developmental and adaptive functioning.  It is thought that this will help the child to effectively interact with others.

Many schools have preventative programs geared towards developing better cognitive skills in the child with CD.  These programs center around teaching the child better ways to cope with situations rather than becoming angry in hopes that it will further the child's interpersonal problem-solving skills.


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