Mr. Svinlesha is correct. Antisocial Personality Disorder (APD), by DSM-IV definition, cannot be applied to children under 18. It is also not exactly correct that APD is “also known as” sociopathy (or psychopathy), although the concepts share similarities.
There are three disorders that are presumed to reflect the development of antisocial behavior over the life span: Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Conduct Disorder and APD. They roughly follow the “rule of thirds”: about 1/3 of those with ODD develop CD and about 1/3 of those with CD develop APD.
Just to clarify something from Mr. S’ post: someone over 18 can still be diagnosed with CD if they meet those criteria and do not meet the criteria for APD, although in practice CD is typically not diagnosed in adults.
I don’t look at it as “controversy,” but there is a recognition that these constructs don’t work perfectly. There is quite a bit of examination of the presence of callous and unemotional features in children, and whether taking such features into account will improve the utility of the diagnosis of CD. Presently, the diagnosis of CD is very much determined by discrete behaviors (runs away, skips school, vandalizes, attacks others), which has the advantage of improving the reliability of the diagnosis (these types of behaviors are easily defined and require less subjective judgment).
On the other hand, there are aspects of some antisocial peope that are less easy to define and require greater subjectivity (e.g. doesn’t seem to feel guilty when he should, acts sneaky, is a smooth talker) which may improve our ability to make predictions about which people will develop poorer outcomes, but which come with a trade off in reliability.
Also, the behaviors of CD are clearly undesirable. However, the behaviors often associated with psychopathy or callous and unemotional behavior, can be positive traits in some circumstances. You would probably want your lawyer or your company’s CEO to be smooth talking and able to manipulate people to some extent.