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The Significance of Parental Involvement in Treating Conduct Disorder

Jul 4, 2023 | 0 comments

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Jul 4, 2023 | Essays | 0 comments


Conduct disorder refers to complex elements of emotional and behavioral problems among juveniles and children. The characteristics of conduct disorder are repetitive and persistent behavior patterns whereby an individual’s basic rights or age-liked social customs gets dishonored (American Psychiatric Association, 2004). Conduct disorder (CD) is a major concern for the juveniles and children because they display aggression towards peers and adults as well as engage in vandalism, theft, truancy, and property destruction. Previous investigations validate that conduct disorders constitutes the greatest group of psychiatric illnesses among children and adolescents and leads to a significant burden in treatment alone.

Research reports that conduct disorder is one of the most preferred treatment cases among juveniles. Conduct disorder often commences prior to being a teenager and often afflict approximately 9% of boys and 2% of girls below 18 years. The symptoms relate to with violence, unacceptable behavior, or criminal behavior; conduct disorder is often confusing the condition with other diseases such as the turmoil of juveniles and juvenile delinquency. However, the symptoms of conduct disorder include, instigating fights, bullying of peers and adults, use of a weapon during victim hostility, forcing sexual activity, and becoming physically cruel to animals or people.


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Conduct disorder has attracted significant researchers in the field of psychology, and extensive validations exist. However, few studies have focused on youths between 14 to 16 (males) years because the existing data is limited to males and females below the age of 18 years. Thus, data focusing on juveniles from 14-16 years is largely scarce and lacking until recent years, despite the 14-16 age bracket having special characteristics. Research to date suggests that significant age-related disparities exist in the development, prognosis, and course of conduct disorder, yet there is a wide gap of evidence on specific data in diagnosis and intervention programs for this group (Ingram & Bynum, 2007). Conduct disorder among adolescent males from 14-16 years comes with increased comorbid psychiatric disorders, such as substance abuse, poor or compromised physical health, adult antisocial personality disorder, and violence.

Background of Theory

Scientists and researchers have not reached a conclusion about the exact causes of conduct disorder among juveniles; however, several sociological, psychological, and biological theories from the recent theories of the investigation. Psychoanalytical and psychological theories hint that persons use antisocial conduct and aggressiveness as a defense against society, letdown to affect controls or to result from parental deficiency (Dawes, 1994). In the meantime, behavioral theory (psychological theories) suggests that juveniles use modeling alongside operant conditioning to develop and help maintain conduct disorder.

Theorists of sociology, on the other hand, suggest that conduct disorders come because of repeated attempts by a child to survive the intimidating societal environment or as a way of obtaining social position among peers. Other sociological scholars have contended that unpredictable home life is the key leading factor to the development of conduct disorder. Dawes, (1994) also indicates that biological theorists show some juveniles are prone to a predisposition to conduct disorder inherited from their parents or linked to the behavior of their parents.

A study that sought to investigate sociological, biological, and psychological theories that used multiple regression analysis to evaluate the genetic and environmental effects on juveniles yielded multiple conclusions. According to Dawes (1994), the biological basis of antisocial behavior in a person is instrumental in predicting increased aggressiveness, adult antisocial disorder, and conduct disorder. Subsequently, inconsistent home environments, including parents with marital challenges of separation, divorce, or depression increased antisocial behavior among their children in independent measures.

Theorists also link factors such as brain damage, defects in growth, social experiences, school failures, and child abuse to the commencement of conduct disorder among adolescents. The antisocial behavior adopted by a child can lead to a negative reaction from others, and in the end worsening the behavior of the minor. Therefore, theorists agree that parenting, environmental factors, and inherited predisposition all have a significant role in the etiology of conduct disorder among adolescents. This paper uses hypothetical situations to describe research and findings on the role of parents in rehabilitating youths within the juvenile system following behavioral changes due to conduct behavior.

Statement of Problem

Various treatment and intervention approaches to conduct disorder among adolescent males have focused on psychological therapies. Certainly, less attention goes to parents on their role in the rehabilitation of adolescents within the juvenile justice system. The courts have designed programs meant to deter future antisocial behavior among the juveniles, including commitment programs, and probation placements. However, these programs have put more emphasis on individual adolescents that have led to short-term benefits. Minimal attention goes to the significant role of parents in rehabilitating their children. Parents should integrate their roles in adolescent rehabilitation programs following a diagnosis of conduct disorder.

Research and Related Data

Robust literature exists in the field of sociology, psychology, and health sciences that have explored the concept of Conduct disorder among adolescent males. Greenwood, (2008) investigated 25 adolescents consisting of 11 males and 14 females aged 14 to 16. These children were suffering from the conduct disorder. He did the assessment using structured diagnostic interviews for personality Axis I. The most prevalent Axis I comorbid diagnosis investigated included depressive disorders (64%), substance abuse (48%), anxiety disorders (52%), and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (28%). The researchers further established that the most prevalent Axis II disorder was borderline personality disorder existing in approximately 32% of adolescents (Greenwood, 2008). However, contradicting results have established no significant disparities in the incidence of comorbidity among juveniles aged from 13-16 years and above 16 but below 18 years (Hoag & Burlingame, 1997). Likewise, research shows that the juveniles that 52% of the youths that met the selection criteria for conduct disorder also met criteria for substance abuse disorder.

Furthermore, existing literature-based research indicates that the future of adolescent males diagnosed with conduct disorder have a high potential of becoming increasingly unhappy to in case they don’t receive early intervention and treatment. The over-protection of prognosis of adolescent onset conduct disorder is common. The juveniles will face significant challenges without comprehensive treatment and timely intervention. The adaptation to the demands of adulthood will continue to have life-long problems with job maintenance and justice system (Chambers, Eccleston, Day, Ward & Howells, 2008). Existing data on conduct disorder indicates that the prevalence of the disease varies from various studies. The most recent estimated lifetime conduct disorder prevalence in the United States give males 7.9% and females 5.8%. However, epidemiological research in Finland and other countries on conduct disorder prevalence among 14-16 years old adolescents range from 4.7% to 8.1% in overall.


The research would seek to answer the following questions:

1. What is the role of parents in treatment and intervention programs for Conduct disorder among adolescent males aged 14-16

2. What is the role of parent love and limit in conduct rehabilitation disorder among adolescent males?

3. What is the role of family communication in treating conduct disorder among adolescent males aged 14-16 years?


HO: There is a significant role of parents in treatment and intervention programs for Conduct disorder among adolescent males aged 14-16 years

H1: There is no a significant role of parents in treatment and intervention programs for Conduct disorder among adolescent males aged 14-16 years

Intended Participants

The intended participants of the research will be adolescent males within the juvenile court system with conduct disorder or oppositional defiant disorder. The study targets 38 adolescent males aged 14-16 for the investigation. The treatment group consisting of 20 adolescents will participate alongside their parents who will play the of Parental Love and Limits (PLL) group therapy within a period of 4 weeks. The adolescents targeted for the study will have an age range of 14-16 with the average age being 15 years.

Instrumentation and Procedures

The research will use the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) that is a standardized and validated instrument used for measuring social competencies and behavioral problems of adolescent males. The parents will complete the CBCL interview questions administered by the researcher. The instrument consists of 118 items associated with deficiencies of behavior that is scored using a three-point scale ranging from, “often true”, “not true”, of the adolescent. The competency items in the instrument will provide twenty social competency items obtained from reports of parents concerning the quality and amount of the participation of the adolescent in hobbies, sports, activities, games, chores, jobs, organizations, drama, and friendship. Likewise, the instrument measures the degree of school functioning and the level and nature of the relationship between the adolescent and others, including playing and working alone. Meanwhile, scores will be obtained from interclass correlations (ICC) of greater than 0.90 using the item scores obtained from parents at four days intervals upon completing the measure of their children (Sells, 1998). In addition, interviews administration based on CBCL will occur specifically to mothers and fathers of the triads of adolescents using demographic matching. The studies on the stability of the ICC scale will take place for four weeks for determining behavior problems and social competencies of children.

Additionally, the research will use Parent-Adolescent Communication Scale (PACS) to estimate the level of communication. The instrument is compost of 20 items based on 5-item Likert scale with questions ranging from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree.” The instrument also contains two subscales that represent open communication among the family members as well as problematic communication within the family (Barnes & Olson, 1995). The measure consists of questions that will be part of the interviews guide to evaluate the extent of openness with respect to communication in the family. The questions will include positive statements associated with factors expressing feelings, understanding, and listening skills. Higher scores will show higher openness while lower scores will show diminished openness among the family members.

Proposed Results

Based on the hypothetical analysis, the treatment group will have significantly lower recidivism rates, unlike the control group over a period of 4 months after release from PLL and probation. Moreover, the control group adolescents that had spent a minimum of one year in detention and treatment group of 4 months in detention showed different results. Results from Parent-Adolescent Communication Scale would indicate that adolescents receiving parent love and limits had little change before and after pre-contemplation and posttest. As such, they appear to show limited or no attitude on change resulting from treatment. However, without a professed attitude change the participants shown a change in their belief and attitude. Furthermore, adolescents will demonstrate that family communication improves significantly for those who receive treatment as opposed to those that were never treated (Bassarath, 2001). On the contrary, the mean of the control group will significantly fall lower suggesting that communication among family members worsened among the control group subjects.

The results from Child Behavior Checklist support PLL group efficacy for intervention. The PLL group member showed a significant improvement unlike the control group subjects after controlling for the pretest scores. Overall, the scores indicated a balance is functioning on the treatment of participants (Sells, 2002).


Research on intervention and treatment programs for Conduct disorder among adolescent males (14-16) has been wide and diverse. However, this study used hypothetical situations to examine the role of parents in the treatment of adolescent’s treatment of conduct disorders. The results show that parents have a significant role in the treatment of adolescent males because their intervention in the treatment of severe behavioral problems among the juveniles has a positive influence on the outcome of the program. While these findings correlate with previous validations, there is need for future practical interventions and evaluations. The exploration of the combined effect of parental interventions and aftercare programs, including individual family therapy. In general, parental education program on conduct disorder adolescents is promising since it engages and motivates adolescents with conduct disorder.


American Psychiatric Association. (2004). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders(4th ed.). (DSM-IV). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.

Barnes, H.L., & Olson, D.H. (1995). Parent–adolescent communication and the Circumplex Model. Child Development Special Family Development, 56 (2), 438–447.

Bassarath, L (2001) Conduct disorder: A biopsychosocial review. Can J Psychiatry 46: 609–616

Chambers, J., Eccleston, L., Day, A., Ward, T., & Howells, K. (2008). Treatment readiness in violent offenders: The influence of cognitive factors on engagement in violence programs. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 13 (4), 276–284.

Dawes, R. M. (1994). House of cards: Psychology and psychotherapy built on myth. New York: Free Press.

Greenwood, P. (2008). Prevention and intervention programs for juvenile offenders. The Future of Children, 18 (2), 185–210.

Hoag, M. J. & Burlingame, G. M. (1997). Evaluating the effectiveness of child and adolescent group treatment: A meta-analytic review. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 26 (3), 234–246.

Ingram, & Bynum, T. (2007). Parents, friends, and serious delinquency: An examination of direct and indirect effects among at-risk early adolescents. Criminal Justice Review, 32 (4), 380–400.

Sells, S. P. (1998). Treating the tough adolescent: A step-by-step, family-based guide. New York: Guilford Press.

Sells, S. P. (2002). Parenting with love and limits leader’s guide. Savannah, GA: Kennikel Press.

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