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Conduct Disorder and Distressful Situations Experienced by Juvenile Delinquents in Kenya 

Naomi James, Ph.D., Oasis Africa Center for Transformational Psychology and Trauma; Alice Munene, Psy.D., Daystar University)

Abstract

The development of conduct disorder is linked to an interaction of various factors. Although some children will manifest with symptoms such as aggression, rebellion and emotional problems before the age of ten, conduct disorder occurs mostly from ten years and above. The purpose of this study was to establish some of the distressful events children with conduct disorder may have experienced. The study focused on identifying the association between exposure to distressful situations such as domestic violence, child abuse, death of a parent and the risks of developing conduct disorder. A total of 167 respondents aged between 13 and 17 years from Kabete and Wamumu rehabilitation schools in Kenya participated in this crosssectional study. A self-administered questionnaire and Child Behavior Checklist Youth Self Report for ages (11-18) (2001) were administered. Data was analysed using Statistical Package for the Social Sciences version 20.0 (2011). The prevalence of conduct disorder was 36.4%, while 71.9% of the respondents were found to have witnessed violence within their neighborhood. Additionally, 68.9% of the respondents found people in their neighborhood hostile to them, 62.9% felt neglected by their parents or caregivers, and 58.1% had parents who abused alcohol. Furthermore, 54.5% of the respondents reported that their parents or caregivers punished them with beatings, while 53.9% had been emotionally abused by their parents or caregivers. Out of the distressful events variables investigated for association with conduct disorder, parents or caregivers fighting with weapons and witnessing parents or caregivers fight physically at home had a strong link. Moreover, respondents whose parents or caregivers abused alcohol or who were neglected had higher risks of developing conduct disorder. These findings show that the prevalence of conduct disorder was high among juvenile delinquents and that the occurrence of the disorder was associated with distressful events experienced. This calls for interventions aimed at training parents on effective parenting skills, providing a safe home environment and appropriate treatment for juveniles with conduct disorder.

Keywords: conduct disorder, juvenile delinquents, rehabilitation, adolescents, caregivers, distressful events, domestic violence.

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