It can, however, be extremely difficult to diagnose a mental disorder in young children because the criteria used to recognise the symptoms of disorder in children are same as those used in adults. Diagnosis becomes even more complicated because children often do not have the skill to verbally communicate their thoughts, feelings and reactions towards certain situation. The difficulty in diagnosis also arises from the normal growth and development of young children. There are several symptoms like anger ‘outbursts, irritability, sadness, shyness’ which can be considered as characteristics of emotional disorders among children but such symptoms can also be features of normal adolescent behaviour under specific circumstances (Walker & Melvin, 2010, pp.1-2). This paper focuses on conduct disorder which is a specific kind of behavioral disorder common among children and adolescents.
Conduct disorder is a common type of mental or emotional problem that happens to children and adolescents. Children who suffer from conduct disorder generally show persistency in patterns of disregard for rules and antisocial behavior for a long time. There are some typical symptoms like aggressive behavior, running away from home at night and causing destruction to property. These symptoms increase with age as children pass on to their adolescent stage (Searight et al., 2001). Conduct disorder among young children can also result in deterioration of academic performance because children suffering from the disorder can exhibit learning inabilities that apparently do not have any “intellectual, sensual or health” reasons. It becomes difficult for them to maintain normal interpersonal relationships with friends and teachers. Even in normal situation they tend to behave in abnormal manner. Moods of depression can be seen in them all the time and they show signs of disobedience towards parents and teachers. These children also develop a fear in relation to personal and school related problems (Behavior Disorder/Emotional Disturbances, n. d.). Young children with conduct disorder can display certain patterns in their behavior at home and schools. Negative traits are seen in them like bullying, threatening or intimidating other people. Such children can often get involved in physical fights and can use dangerous items as weapons to physically harm people and animals, something like knife, gun or a broken bottle. It is also common among these children to get engaged in stealing. Other people can be forced into sexual activity by them. Properties of others can be destroyed by these children by setting fire on them. Another trait that can be seen in them is that they can stealthily enter into other people’s houses or get into their cars. These children often show tendency to lie to obtain things they want and can also get engaged in shoplifting. The rules of schools and home are violated by them as they play truant at school or run away from home at night. (Facts for Families: Conduct Disorder, 2004, p. 1). Prevalence There are different ways to evaluate the prevalence of conduct disorder and, hence, it becomes difficult to compare results from different studies. While some studies show prevalence during a definite period of time, there are other studies which show “cumulative prevalence”. Different studies are conducted during different age ranges of children and methods also vary with each study. As a result of this, different studies produce different estimates for the prevalence of conduct disorder. The prevalence of conduct disorder generally gets enhanced among girls as they leave childhood and move into adolescent periods. This feature is not common among