Lyttle, Sadekie; Brodie, Stacey
Author Affiliation, Ana.
Child abuse and its relationship to conduct disorder
Psychiatry Online Journal
Date of Publication
Children and adolescents who have experienced child abuse generally are at a “high risk” for the social problems due to the conduct problems that they exhibit. The pervasive symptoms identified in these children and adolescents include explosive temper tantrums, physical aggression, fighting, threats or attempts to hurts others (including homicidal thoughts), use of weapons, cruelty towards animals, fire setting, intentional destruction of property and vandalism, behavioural symptoms identified in the diagnostic criteria for Conduct Disorder. Furthermore, a history of childhood abuse has been associated with higher rates of psychopathology in adulthood when compared to non-abused adults. A sample of 70 substantiated cases of child abuse between the ages of 10 and 19 was identified to investigate whether the behavioural symptoms they displayed are severe enough to warrant a diagnosis of Conduct Disorder and identify the nature and differences in presentation across age, gender and type of abuse. Participants were assessed using the Conduct Disorder Scale. A demographic questionnaire was also administered. The results indicated that 50% of the sample met the criteria for Conduct Disorder. Those who met the criteria were sexually and physically abused, with high rates of aggressive conduct, hostility, deceitfulness/theft and rule violating behaviours. Those neglected/abandoned had low rates of conduct problems when compared to other types of abuse and majority did not meet the criteria for Conduct Disorder. Conduct problems were found to intensify between the ages of 13 and 15 years, with females exhibiting higher rates of aggressive conduct than males. The results of this study suggest the need for assessment and therapy for children and adolescents who have experienced abuse as their conduct problems may be the characteristic response to an abusive experience.....