R. Todd Bennett, P.C.
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Genes can predispose teens to deliquency

Families in Texas may be interested in a recent study that associated anti-social behavior with three specific genes of DNA. The study discovered that teens possessing the usual variants of these three genes may be predisposed to various levels of anti-social behavior in relation to whether the child was raised in a caring or abusive environment. Researchers concluded that genes may alter the sensitivity an individual has to their surroundings, thereby affecting both genes and behavior.

Scientists have speculated that there may be a direct correlation between sexual, physical and emotional mistreatment and psychiatric problems developing such as borderline personality disorder, criminal behavior and aggression. Experiencing stress early on life may lead to neurological and molecular effects that can alter neural development as an adaptation to prepare an adult brain for survival and reproduction in a dangerous environment. However, the result of the adaptation may increase the likelihood for delinquency and violence in younger adults.

Researchers claim that it is not genetics that leads to this behavior, but the surroundings that alter the genes, affecting an individual's sensitivity to their environment. When negative events occur early on in life, the outcomes for some individuals are worse than average. When positive events occur, the results may be better than average. The variants of the MAOA, BDNF and 5-HTTLPR genes examined in the study inhibited one's ability to socialize, facilitated aggressive behavior and affected how brains typically adapt to traumatic events.

People accused of committing delinquent acts typically benefit from seeking legal counsel. A criminal defense lawyer may be effective in reviewing the allegations and identifying the most viable strategy for defending the accused. If a psychiatric evaluation determines that an individual may possess mental deficiencies, they may receive more leniency in court.

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

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