Conduct Disorder Resource Center

Last updated March 2019


"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.

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Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is conduct disorder?
  2. What are the causes and consequences of conduct disorder?
  3. What is the best way to treat a youngster with conduct disorder?

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Facts for Families

AACAP's Facts for Families provide concise up-to-date information on issues that affect children, teenagers, and their families.

Conduct Disorder

Understanding Violent Behavior In Children and Adolescents

Children with Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Children Who Steal


Fighting and Biting

Where to Find Help For Your Child

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Clinical Resources

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) developed The Use of Medication in Treating Childhood and Adolescent Depression: Information for Patients and Families. Both the ParentsMedGuide and PhysiciansMedGuide were designed to help individuals make informed decisions about childhood and adolescent depression treatment. Click here for more information.

Lifelong Learning Modules

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Research and Training

Practice Parameters
Considered resources for experts, mental health professional and physicians, AACAP’s practice parameters were developed to guide clinical decision making. They show the best treatments and the range of treatment options available to families living with childhood and adolescent mental illness.

Practice Parameters for the Assessment and Treatment of Children and Adolescents with Conduct Disorder

Are Oppositional Defiant and Conduct Disorder Symptoms Normative Behaviors in Preschoolers? A Comparison of Referred and Nonreferred Children
Kate Keenan and Lauren S. Wakschlag. American Journal of Psychiatry 2004 161:2, 356-358

Validity of DSM-IV Conduct Disorder in 4½–5-Year-Old Children: A Longitudinal Epidemiological Study
Julia Kim-Cohen, Louise Arseneault, Avshalom Caspi, Mónica Polo Tomás, Alan Taylor, and Terrie E. Moffitt. American Journal of Psychiatry 2005 162:6, 1108-1117

Pregnancy Risk Factors in Relation to Oppositional Disorder and Conduct Disorder in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children
Journal of Psychiatric Research Feb 23, 2018

Instruments for Evaluating Pharmacotherapy Intervention Efficacy in Violent and Aggressive Behavior and Conduct Disorder in Youth
Aggresssion and Violent Behavior. Volume 23, May, 2017 pp 84-95

Annual Meeting Sessions
Search the Annual Meeting Sessions.

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AACAP’s books: Your Child and Your Adolescent offer easy-to-understand and comprehensive information on the emotional development and behavior of children from infancy through the teen years.

IACAPAP Textbook of Child and Adolescent Mental Health
Section on Conduct Disorders
Stephen Scott

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Getting Help

Getting help is the most important thing that parents can do for children and adolescents with conduct disorder. Parents should try to find a mental health professional who has advanced training and experience with evaluating and treating children, adolescents, and families. It is important to find a comfortable match between your child, your family, and the mental health professional.

A child and adolescent psychiatrist is a physician who specializes in the diagnosis and, treatment of disorders of thinking, feeling and behavior that affect children, adolescents, and their families. Child and adolescent psychiatrists have completed four years of medical school, at least three years of residency training in medicine, neurology, or general psychiatry with adults, and two years of additional training in psychiatric work with children, adolescents, and their families.

Click here to find a child and adolescent psychiatrist in your area.

Bear in mind that because of the extensive training required, there is a nationwide shortage of child and adolescent psychiatrists. To learn more about other mental health professionals and places where families can find help, read Where to Find Help For Your Child.

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