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Conduct Disorder

Conduct Disorders

What are Conduct Disorders?

Conduct Disorder (CD) are behavioural difficulties displayed by children and adolescents that often manifest in a refusal to obey rules or socially acceptable behaviours. Factors that may contribute to the development of child developing conduct disorders include:

  • Disruption within the family

  • A history of child abuse or parental rejection

  • A genetic history of ADHD, alcohol abuse, depression or bipolar

  • An upbringing within an impoverished or socially unstable environment

Children experiencing these issues are often labelled as disruptive and “delinquents”, without an understanding of the underlying issues at play. If left unaddressed, conduct disorder can often develop into antisocial behaviour as an adult.



Children or adolescents with conduct disorder may exhibit some of the following behaviours:

  • Aggression to people and animals: this may include bullying, threatening or intimidating others, instigating physical violence, inflicting pain upon animals, aggravated theft and or non-consensual sexual activity

  • Destruction of Property – deliberating setting fires or vandalising properties with the intent to destroy or inflict damage

  • Deceitfulness, lying, or stealing – forcibly gaining access to properties with the intent of stealing property, lying or engaging in acts of deception to obtain goods

  • Serious violations of rules– a refusal to obey rules set at home or school, running away from home, truanting school



A comprehensive evaluation by an experienced mental health professional is the first step towards addressing CD. Children who experience Conduct Disorders may also be dealing with coexisting conditions such as anxiety, PTSD, substance abuse or ADHD – which can also be identified and treated. Early intervention is vital for adolescence with conduct disorders. If left untreated, these disorders can cause serious difficulties in adulthood including problems building relationships or gaining full-time employment.



Conduct Disorder, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Conduct Disorder, Better Health Channel, Victoria State Government

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