Overview of Conduct Disorder: Implications for School Rehabilitation Professionals

Overview of Conduct Disorder: Implications for School Rehabilitation Professionals

Michael F. Shaughnessy, Mark Williams II, Carl Michael Carlson, Chia Jung Yeh
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-7630-4.ch018
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Research studies show that conduct disorder is a disruptive behavior disorder that might cause children to experience some challenges within their personal and social life. Very often children with this disorder might be feeling failure at school and exclusion from their peers and others. It might also affect their home, social, and school environments. These students with this disorder might present management and therapeutic challenges for counselors, psychologists, and mental health professionals. This chapter aims to provide an overview of conduct disorder, which might help school rehabilitation professionals and educators understand what risk factors, symptoms, diagnosis criteria, and treatment options can better understand this disorder, preventions, and interventions. This chapter will cursorily explore these realms with an overview of this disorder and offer some implementations and recommendations for school rehabilitation professionals.
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Students with conduct disorders have been a challenge in the schools for many years. There are students with overt and covert conduct disorders with behaviors ranging from theft to assault to fire starting, and these students have presented management challenges and therapeutic challenges for counselors, psychologists and mental health professionals alike. This chapter will cursorily explore this disorder and provide an overview of this disorder and examine treatment issues, including characteristics, risk factors, causes, symptoms, diagnostic criteria, and some treatments, and implementation in the classroom.


Children and adolescents with conduct disorder often show intense emotional and behavioral problems (Psychology Today, 2017). Children with minor conduct disorder diagnose consistently violate others' rights and will not adapt their behavior to meet the law or other social norms (Porter, n.d.). They may be labeled as juvenile delinquents in the courts and in the judicial system. The impact of some students’ behavior patterns will bring them in contact with disciplinary actions from the school system. Further, their parents may have to attend various disciplinary meetings, and the juvenile justice system may also become involved (Kauffman et al., 2017).

Students with conduct disorder often show aggression and anger, demonstrating some difficulties in retaining appropriate behavioral relationships with peers, family, and other authority figures (Woodard et al., 2019). Often, educators view and label these students as simply “bad boys” or “bad girls” without realizing the underlying and legitimate mental disorder.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Conduct Disorder: A common and more severe disorder than ODD which shows repetitive and insistent specific behaviors (i.e., frequent lying, theft, destruction of property, burning, fighting, and unkind to animals, etc.) and emotional problems in youths plus often experiencing some challenging behaviors, such as violation of rules, not respecting others’ rights, demonstrating aggressive behaviors, etc. It’s often a diagnosis that is usually given to children and adolescents under the age of 18 (APA, 2013; AACAP, 2018 ; Jones, 2008; Colins et al., 2020).

Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD): A behavior disorder persists for at least six months which usually diagnosed in younger children who often exhibit a pattern of some hostile behaviors like argumentative/defiant behaviors, spiteful or vindictive behaviors, temper tantrums, and often lose temper, easily annoyed, or feeling angry (American Psychiatric Association, 2020). Children with ODD might refuse to follow directions, deliberately annoying, acting out toward, and demonstrate a rebelliousness toward all adults.

Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED): “an impulse-control disorder” is often considered a tendency by impulsive, nonconscious and spontaneous aggressive outbursts (Scott et al., 2016, p. 3161). It can show verbal or physical aggressive actions which might cause or involve some physical injury toward others’ belongings, animals or other people and these actions are not influenced by any other mental disorder or a general medical condition (American Psychiatric Association, 2020; Coccaro, 2020).

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): Is a complex disorder, which can be seen as a disorder of life time, developing in preschool years and manifesting symptoms (full and/or partial) throughout adulthood; therefore, it is not surprising that there are no simple solutions. ADHD has been given a variety of names over the years, including the still commonly used attention-deficit disorder (ADD) (APA, 2020; Singh et al., 202015; Singh & Squires, 2014).

Disruptive Behavior: Behavior that frequently threatens, scares others or often disturbs social and community rules. This term is characteristically often considered to the behavior of children; however, it can also be applied to designate adult behavior (APA, 2020).

DSM-5: An abbreviation for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders with Fifth Edition (APA, 2020).

Rehabilitation Professionals: A group of health care and education specialists with different credentials who provide relevant care, training, therapies, consultations, and educations in any rehabilitation program and setting, including schools, classrooms, or hospitals.

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