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In this chapter, the nature of conduct disorder and its symptoms will be reviewed briefly, and then an overview of a set of child, family, peer and community risk factors that can predict the emergence of serious antisocial behaviour in youth will be provided. Based on the contextual social–cognitive risk factors that have been implicated in the development of antisocial behaviour, a set of empirically supported cognitive behavioural interventions have been developed for youths from pre-adolescence through to the adolescent age periods. These programmes will be discussed, along with the research indicating their effectiveness.
The fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV; American Psychiatric Association, 1994) defines conduct disorder (CD) as symptoms consisting of aggressive conduct that threatens physical harm to other people or animals or non-aggressive conduct that causes property loss or damage, deceitfulness and theft and serious violations of rules. CD is a repetitive and persistent pattern of behaviour which violates societal norms or the basic rights of others. These serious conduct problems are differentiated from oppositional defiant disorder which represents a recurrent pattern of defiant and disobedient behaviour (see Chapter 13). In the USA, rates of CD are estimated to be in the range of 6–16% for boys and 2–9% for girls (American Psychiatric Association, 1994), and to be more prevalent in boys than girls at a rate of about 3:1 (Kazdin, 1998).
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