Conduct Disorder

The key, for the teacher as well as for the student, is hard work. When hard work is combined with love, humor and a recognition of … the desire to learn, the ability to sacrifice, the wish to get ahead that burns in our young people, the stereotypes and the barriers begin to crumble.

Jaime Escalante (In 1974, [he] was hired as a basic Mathematics teacher at Garfield High School, a troubled inner-city school in East Los Angeles. He attracted national attention with his spectacular success teaching advanced Mathematics to gang members and other students who had been considered ‘unteachable’.)

Taken from ‘Jaime Escalante Maths Program’ Jaime Escalante and Jack Dirmann, pp.407–424, Journal of Negro Education, 1990, Summer Issue


CD may at first present as what one may believe to be oppositional defiant disorder (ODD); however, it is more severe and has more socially disruptive and disturbing characteristics. While students with CD may share characteristics similar to the students with ODD they are more physically aggressive and threatening, and appear to lack empathy. Behaviour in which the rights of others or ageappropriate societal norms are violated is persistent and repetitive. CD is one of the most disruptive and difficult conditions to affect the behaviour of students and those with CD have great difficulty following rules and behaving in a socially acceptable way. Typically, CD is not diagnosed until the student is at post-primary level.

Those with CD may be aggressive to people and/or animals and this may be exhibited when the student bullies threatens or intimidates others, initiates physical fights, uses a dangerous weapon, is physically cruel to people and/or animals, steals while confronting others (e.g. mugging, purse snatching, extortion) and/or forces someone into sexual activity. Students with CD may deliberately set fires and destroy property. Deceitfulness, lying and/or stealing also characterise the student with CD and may present when a student breaks into a house/car, lies and engages in stealing activities such as shoplifting. Serious violation of rules may also be associated with CD and may include truancy from school.

It is exceptionally rare for a student to present with CD alone. The student may have some other neuropsychiatric disorder such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depression or bipolar disorder. Students with CD may also have Tourette syndrome, learning difficulties, mood disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) or other special educational needs.