Development and Psychopathology


Gender and the development of conduct disorder

Mark Zoccolilloa1 c1

a1 McGill University, Quebec, Canada


A discussion of gender and conduct disorder must first answer the basic questions of whether or not there are any differences in prevalence, symptoms, and correlates of conduct disorder by sex. Several epidemiologic studies have found no difference in the prevalence of conduct disorder in adolescence by sex. Correlates of conduct disorder in girls are similar to those in boys (including aggression and internalizing disorders), once base rates of the correlates are accounted for. A major problem in studying conduct disorder in girls is the lack of appropriate criteria; the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (3rd ed., rev.) criteria are not appropriate for girls. A case is made for sex-specific criteria for conduct disorder that take into account known differences in male and female childhood cultures and base-rate differences in aggression and criminality. Until basic issues of diagnosis and prevalence are resolved, other issues such as risk factors and developmental pathways cannot be successfully addressed.


c1 Address correspondence to: Dr. Mark Zoccolillo, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Psychiatry, McGill University, 4018 St. Catherine Street West, Westmount, Quebec H3Z 1P2, Canada.