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The Connection Between Genetics and Juvenile Crime


Ohio residents may not be aware about a recent study that found teenagers who carry common variants of three genes are more likely to display unusually different levels of antisocial attitudes, contingent on whether the teen has grown up in an abusive environment or a loving one. The study found that family conflict and sexual abuse contributed to the tendency of delinquency in the teen. In contrast, a positive relationship between the parent and child contributed to the decrease of the likelihood of delinquency.

The study was published on Dec. 11 and weighed three common variants of genes together. It was the first study of its kind that showed certain gene variants can actually have a conclusive result to combat juvenile delinquency. What the study proved is that it is not genes that necessarily determine behavior but rather how genes react with an individual's environment.

The results prove that fragile people have a better outcome than average when positive things happen to them; however, outcomes are worse than average when people experience negative things with these variants of genes. The study observed 1,227 high school teens between the ages of 17 and 18 in Sweden. Each teen completed an anonymous survey about questions concerning levels of delinquencies. The survey took into account past sexual abuse scenarios and how close the teen's relationships with their parents were. DNA was also taken from each teen.

The study concluded that emotional, sexual or physical abuse towards a child and the advancement of psychiatric issues like crime, personality disorders and aggression are interlinked. It also found that genes affect the brain, which affects behavior because it alters a person's sensitivity to their environment. The result can be that some young adults are more inclined to display violent tendencies and commit juvenile crimes.

Source: Newsweek, "New Study Reveals Antisocial Behaviour is Linked to Genetics", Amelia Smith, December 15, 2014