The prognosis for Conduct Disorder (CD) is guarded for individuals who develop symptoms of CD at an earlier age, particularly if the symptoms begin before the age of 10. Animal cruelty has been one of the earliest behaviors identified in the development of CD (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or DSM-IV-TR, American Psychiatric Association, 2000). In this study, records of male adolescents with CD alone and with CD and other comorbid disorders were examined in relation to history of animal cruelty. Data were analyzed using a two-way contingency analysis and the odds ratio and relative risk were calculated. The results of the study indicated that there was not a statistically significant difference in adolescent males with comorbid diagnoses of CD and depression (p = .35) or CD and anxiety (p = .72) and a history of animal cruelty, when compared to adolescent males with only a diagnosis of CD. There was a statistically significant difference in adolescent males with comorbid diagnoses of CD and ADHD (p = .01), and a history of animal cruelty, when compared to adolescent males with only a diagnosis of CD. It is believed that depression and anxiety minimize the effects of CD and decrease the risk for animal cruelty, whereas ADHD exacerbates symptoms of CD and increases the risk for animal cruelty.
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