Encyclopedia Home / C / Conduct disorder

Conduct disorder

  • Symptoms

    Children with conduct disorder tend to be impulsive, hard to control, and not concerned about the feelings of other people.

    Symptoms may include:

    • Breaking rules without obvious reason
    • Cruel or aggressive behavior toward people or animals (for example: bullying, fighting, using dangerous weapons, forcing sexual activity, and stealing)
    • Failure to attend school (truancy -- beginning before age 13)
    • Heavy drinking and/or heavy illicit drug use
    • Intentionally setting fires
    • Lying to get a favor or avoid things they have to do
    • Running away
    • Vandalizing or destroying property

    These children often make no effort to hide their aggressive behaviors. They may have a hard time making real friends.


    Signs and tests

    There is no real test for diagnosing conduct disorder. The diagnosis is made when a child or adolescent has a history of conduct disorder behaviors.

    A physical examination and blood tests can help rule out medical conditions that are similar to conduct disorder. Rarely, a brain scan may also help rule out other disorders.