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Conduct Disorder

Conduct Disorder describes children and adolescents who systematically violate the basic rights of others or break social rules and norms that someone of a similar age would be expected to follow.

In particular, individuals who are diagnosed with this condition must have at least 3 of the following symptoms within the past 12 months, including at least one that has been present over the past 6 months:

Aggression to people or animals:

  • bullies, threatens, or intimidates others often
  • starts physical fights often
  • has used a weapon that could cause serious physical harm to others (eg. bat, brick, broken bottle, knife, fun)
  • has been physically cruel to people
  • has been physically cruel to animals
  • has stolen from someone while confronting the victim (eg. mugging, purse snatching, extortion, armed robbery)
  • has forced someone into sexual activity

Destruction of property:

  • has deliberately engaged in fire-setting with the intention of causing serious damage
  • has deliberately destroyed others' property (other than by fire-setting)

Deceitfulness or theft:

  • has broken into someone's house, building or car
  • often lies to obtain goods or favors or to avoid obligations (ie. "cons" others)
  • has stolen items of some value without confronting the victim (eg. shoplifting without breaking and entering, forgery)

Serious violations of rules:

  • often stays out at night despite parent's curfew, which begins before age 13
  • has run away from home overnight at least twice while living in their parents' home, or the home of a parental surrogate (or once without returning for a lengthy period)
  • often skips school, which begins before age 13

By definition, these symptoms cause a significant impairment in the individual's ability to function in their life roles at school, work, or in their relationships with peers and family.

Conduct Disorder can be classified as Childhood-Onset Type if at least one of the symptoms start before age 10, or as Adolescent-Onset Type if none of the symptoms start before age 10. (If the age of onset is not known, it is labeled as Unspecified Onset).

Conduct Disorder is considered mild if the person has a minimum number of required symptoms, and these cause only minor harm to others. Severe cases are those where the person has many of the above symptoms, or has some symptoms that cause considerable harm to others. Moderate cases are those that fall somewhere in between these two extremes.


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Oppositional Defiant Disorder