|Childhood Mental Health: Conduct Disorders|
The term conduct disorder refers to a complicated
group of behavioural and emotional problems in youngsters. Children and
adolescents with this disorder have great difficulty following rules and
behaving in a socially acceptable way. They are often viewed by other
children, adults and social agencies as bad or delinquent, rather than
mentally ill. Many factors may contribute to a child developing conduct
disorder, including brain damage, child abuse, genetic vulnerability,
school failure, and traumatic life experiences.
Symptoms and Signs
Children or adolescents with conduct disorder may exhibit some of the
- Aggression towards people and animals: including bullying; intimidation;
use of a weapon; physical cruelty; etc.
- Destruction of Property: including, for example, deliberately engaged
in fire setting with the intention to cause damage and deliberately
destroying other's property.
- Deceitfulness, lying, or stealing.
- Serious violations of rules: e.g. truancy; runs away from home; stays
out at night despite parental objections.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Children who exhibit these behaviours should receive a comprehensive
evaluation. Many children with a conduct disorder may have coexisting
conditions such as ,
, , substance abuse, ,
learning problems, or which can also be treated.
Research shows that youngsters with conduct disorder are likely to have
ongoing problems if they and their families do not receive early and comprehensive
treatment. Without treatment, many youngsters with conduct disorder are
unable to adapt to the demands of adulthood and continue to have problems
with relationships and holding a job. They often break laws or behave
in an antisocial manner.
Treatment of children with conduct disorder can be complex and challenging.
Treatment can be provided in a variety of different settings depending
on the severity of the behaviours. Adding to the challenge of treatment
are the child's uncooperative attitude, fear and distrust of adults. In
developing a comprehensive treatment plan, a child and adolescent psychiatrist
may use information from the child, family, teachers, and other medical
specialities to understand the causes of the disorder.
Behaviour therapy and
are usually necessary to help the child appropriately express and control
anger. Special education may be needed for youngsters with learning disabilities.
Parents often need expert assistance in devising and carrying out special
management and educational programs in the home and at school. Treatment
may also include medication in some youngsters, such as those with difficulty
paying attention, impulse problems, or those with depression. Treatment
is rarely brief since establishing new attitudes and behaviour patterns
takes time. However, early treatment offers a child a better chance for
considerable improvement and hope for a more successful future.
The information in this page is presented in summarised form and has been taken
from the following source(s):
Based on the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
"Facts for Families" series: http://www.aacap.org/publications/factsfam/
(def;articles & more)