Conduct Disorder in children or teenagers presents as a pattern of disobedience or negative behaviors such as consistently breaking the rules, ignoring boundaries that are appropriate for their age and violating the rights of others. Usually, teenagers that have a conduct disorder exhibit negative patterns of behavior that are more extreme than those of your average adolescent. These teens have difficulties at home, in school and in their communities. They are often involved in sexual activities earlier than other teenagers of the same age group and have low self-esteem yet give the appearance of being tough kids. Many of these teens with conduct disorders are described as anti-social or delinquent and exhibit symptoms of other psychiatric disorders, like ADD, ADHD, depression, anxiety, and drug or alcohol abuse. These teenagers show little to no remorse, guilt or understanding of the pain their actions/behaviors cost to those around them. Conduct disorder is more common in boys and occurs in 1-4% of 9-17 year olds. Most recently, more and more girls are being diagnosed with conduct disorder.
According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry symptoms of conduct disorder are presented in four main categories:
- Aggression to animals and people for instance bullying, fighting, cruelty, and brandishing weapons, intimidating their victims.
- Vandalism, destruction of property, and fire setting
- lying and theft
- Truancy, running away, breaking curfew and other misdemeanors