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Could your genes indicate the possibility of committing a crime?

No parent or guardian wants to hear that their child has been arrested for committing a crime. That's because, try as most parents might, without considerable knowledge of the law, it's hard for parents to truly teach the difference between what is legal and what is illegal, thereby preventing a crime from occurring in the first place. On top of that, without an understanding of the juvenile criminal justice system, it is often difficult for parents to prepare a child for the challenges ahead.

But what if there was a way to predict the risk of delinquency in a juvenile? According to some researchers, there may be a relationship between a person's genes and their propensity for committing crimes. For parents who are concerned about their child's future and the effect a criminal record can have on it, knowing this piece of information could make all the difference down the road.

Researchers in Canada and Sweden have pioneered a study that looked at how our genes affect our life experiences. Researchers looked at high school students between the ages of 17 and 18 and determined that there are three common variants of genes that can lead to antisocial behavior and even juvenile delinquency.

Two of the genes that researchers looked at are responsible for regulating behavior through neurotransmitters while the other dictates how well a person adapts to their environment. Researchers discovered that variations of these genes made a person more sensitive to their surroundings than the average person, oftentimes dictating how they would react in situations.

Researchers noted that it's not just these three genes that can help determine the risk of delinquency but also the child's environment as well. Among those in the study with the gene variants, children who were exposed to adversity in their childhood were more likely to display antisocial behaviors and were more likely to commit a crime than those who did not have the gene variants.

In contrast, children with the gene variants who had pleasant or positive childhood experiences were significantly less likely to display antisocial behavior than the average child.

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

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