What is Conduct Disorder?

illustration of angry person

It is a Disruptive, Impulse-Control, and Conduct Disorder characterized by a repetitive and persistent pattern over at least 12 months of serious rule-violating behavior in which the basic rights of others or major societal norms or rules are violated.

These children would engage in severe, repeated acts of aggression that can cause physical harm to others

Signs & Symptoms

The patient would exhibit symptoms from the following categories:

Aggression to People and Animals

  • Often bullies, threatens, or intimidates others.
  • Often initiates physical fights
  • Has used a weapon that can cause serious physical harm to others (e.g., a bat, brick, broken bottle, knife, gun).
  • Has been physically cruel to people.
  • Has been physically cruel to animals.
  • Has stolen while confronting a victim (e.g., 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 else’s house, building, or car.
  • Often lies to obtain goods or favors or to avoid obligations (i.e., “cons” others).
  • Has stolen items of nontrivial value without confronting a victim (e.g., shoplifting, but without breaking and entering; forgery).

Serious Violations of Rules

  • Often stays out at night despite parental prohibitions, beginning before age 13 years.
  • Has run away from home overnight at least twice while living in the parental or parental surrogate home, or once without returning for a lengthy period.
  • Is often truant from school, beginning before age 13 years

What to do if you think your child may have Conduct Disorder?

Visit your primary care physician if you suspect your child may have this disorder; they will be assessed and referred to the Child Psychiatrist if necessary.


  1. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders. DSM 5 TR 2022
  2. Kaplan and Saddocks. Synopsis of Psychiatry. 12th edition. 2022
  3. Nelson’s Textbook of pediatrics. 21st Edition 2020

Prepared by:

Dr. Jenese October
Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist. Psychiatry Department. GPHC