"Conduct disorder" refers to a group of behavioral 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. Children or adolescents with conduct disorder may exhibit some of the following behaviors:

Aggression to people and animals

bullies, threatens or intimidates others
forces someone into sexual activity
has used a weapon that could cause serious physical harm to others (e.g. a bat, brick, broken bottle, knife or gun)
is physically cruel to people or animals
often initiates physical fights in and/or out of the home
steals from a victim while confronting them (e.g. assault)
Deceitfulness, lying, or stealing

has broken into someone else's building, house, or car
lies to obtain goods, or favors or to avoid obligations
steals items without confronting a victim (e.g. shoplifting, but without breaking and entering)
Destruction of Property

deliberately destroys other's property
deliberately engaged in fire setting with the intention to cause damage and/or harm
Serious violations of rules

often stays out at night despite parental objections
often truant from school
runs away from home

Children who exhibit these behaviors need to receive a comprehensive evaluation.

Many children with a conduct disorder may have coexisting conditions such as ADHD, anxiety, mood disorders, PTSD, substance abuse, learning problems, or thought disorders which can also be treated.

Research shows that youngsters with conduct disorder are likely to have ongoing problems when 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 young adulthood and continue to have problems with finishing school, 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 behaviors.

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 specialties to understand the causes of the disorder. Behavior therapy and psychotherapy 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 behavior patterns takes time.

However, early treatment offers a child a better chance for considerable improvement and hope for a more successful future.

Author's Bio: 

Dore E. Frances, Ph.D. began her small therapeutic consulting practice as an Advocate in California in 1988. In her work as an Advocate, she became familiar with the processes and strategies families develop to find appropriate educational matches for their children. In the course of her work, she also became aware that these inherent family strategies and processes do not always work the same way for every family.

In order to better understand adolescent development, family development, family dynamics, programs, schools and students, Dore received a masters degree in Child and Family Studies.

This provided the framework for her previous experience in advocacy work and independent therapeutic assistance and inspired her to expand her personal Educational / Therapeutic Consulting practice with an office in Pacific Grove, California.

Simultaneously she worked in the grief counseling field assisting children and families through the trauma of loss.

She remained in this work at The Hospice of Monterey until 2003, when she moved to Coeur d' Alene, Idaho, maintaining an office there.

Dore then moved to Bend, Oregon in 2004 where she is currently a member of Advocates for Children of Trauma, the American Bar Association as an Advocate, a member of Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, a member of The National Association of Parents with Children in Special Education and an associate member of the National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs.

Between 2005 and 2008 Dore also volunteered with CASA of Deschutes County.

Dore previously served as the Executive Director for the non-profit Positive Directions Foundation in California, a whole child and family approach offering workshops to communities and schools focusing on such areas of concern as alcohol and drug addiction in teens, pathways to positive directions for youth, reducing bullying behaviors, teen pregnancy, and teen and family relationships.

Dr. Frances has a Masters Degree in Child & Family Studies and a Doctorate of Applied Human Development in Child and Family Development with an emphasis in Diverse Families and a minor in Child Advocacy.

Dr. Frances provides a professional relationship for all of her clients with a compassionate and sensitive commitment to each unique individual.