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NCJ Number: 167328 Find in a Library
Title: Biological Factors Contribute to Juvenile Crime and Violence (From Juvenile Crime: Opposing Viewpoints, P 75-82, 1997, A E Sadler, ed. -- See NCJ-167319)
Author(s): N Wartik
Date Published: 1997
Page Count: 8
Sponsoring Agency: Greenhaven Press
Farmington Hills, MI 48333-9187
Sale Source: Greenhaven Press
P.O. Box 9187
Farmington Hills, MI 48333-9187
United States of America
Type: Issue Overview
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Studies indicate that biological factors, including genetics, may predispose a child to commit violent crimes.
Abstract: Instead of searching for genes that dictate behavior, scientists are currently looking for physiological risk factors that increase the potential of someone's being violence prone. In an article by Nancy Touchette in the Journal of NIH (National Institutes of Health) Research (February 1994), she states that many neuroscientists now believe that one key factor in violent behavior is a failure of impulse control. No one believes that a simple neurochemical produces antisocial behavior, but evidence from several laboratories shows that the neurotransmitter serotonin is a key player in impulse control. Heredity can stack the deck toward violence through its influence on personality and temperament, which are linked to physiological factors. Antisocial, aggressive children tend to fit a certain profile; they are fearless, impulsive risk-takers who are restless, have a low attention span, have difficulty empathizing with others, and want immediate gratification of their needs. Some of these characteristics may have genetic influences, notes David Kosson, a psychologist at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Another factor that can increase the risk of juvenile violence is damage to a developing brain. A 1994 study found that birth complications, such as a breech birth, significantly increased the likelihood that the child would have a violent criminal record by age 18; he notes, however, that upbringing is also critical in molding these children. The study speculates that these children may have experienced damage to a part of the brain that helps curb aggressive impulses. Most researchers agree that biology alone does not determine a child's behavior; biology combines with environment to determine behavior, whether good or bad. At the individual level, it is crucial that parents or other adults in a child's life intervene quickly when they spot troubling behavior patterns.
Main Term(s): Juvenile delinquency factors
Index Term(s): Biological influences; Genetic influences on behavior; Violence causes; Violent juvenile offenders
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