Published On: Sat, Jun 23rd, 2018

Genetic Expression and Youth Violence

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A study of 1100 adolescent boys in grades 7-12 makes a direct link between genetic variations and teen delinquency. Examining three gene variations affecting neurotransmitters in the brain that regulate behaviour such as aggression and motivation, researchers asked the inevitable questions: Why are some teens with genetic disposition to violence able to resist delinquency? What role do environmental factors play in genetic expression of delinquency?

Genetic Expression and Youth Violence

Gang Guo, a sociologist at the Carolina Center for Genomic Studies at the University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill, studied boys with 3 genetic variations and delinquent behavior, and then cross-referenced the results of his study with environmental variables such as church attendance, repeating a grade, being popular at school or eating dinner every night with family. The conclusion was that positive family and environmental influences reduced the negative effect of the variant genes. However, a lack of positive influences amplified the negative effects of the genes.

One example of moderation in genetic expression is found in boys with a genetic variable called DTD2. Researchers found that environmental influences such as having a daily meal with one or both parents seemed to have a profound levelling effect on this risky gene variant. Another example found that repeating a grade in school intensified the genetic variation called MAOA*R2, causing boys to become seriously involved with anti-social conduct.

A second study completed at Northeastern University suggests that environmental factors such as Church and community involvement protected boys and girls from violence and crime. Examining data from 1400 teenagers who lived in an upper middle class suburban neighborhood, researchers tabulated the relationships found among social controls, family bonds, church and community involvement and delinquent conduct.

Research on genetic expression and youth violence is not only enlightening but empowering. Knowing that one is not slave to genetic destiny allows one to make the most positive lifestyle and parenting choices for self and children.

About the Author

- Paul Linus is an eminent online journalist who has been writing news, features and editorials on different websites from across the world for about a decade. He can be contacted at

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