Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

For Adolescent Crime Victims, Genetic Factors Play Lead Role

Date:
May 20, 2009
Source:
Florida State University
Summary:
Genes trump environment as the primary reason that some adolescents are more likely than others to be victimized by crime, according to a criminologist.

Genes trump environment as the primary reason that some adolescents are more likely than others to be victimized by crime, according to groundbreaking research led by distinguished criminologist Kevin M. Beaver of The Florida State University.

Related Articles


The study is believed to be the first to probe the genetic basis of victimization.

"Victimization can appear to be a purely environmental phenomenon, in which people are randomly victimized for reasons that have nothing to do with their genes," said Beaver, an assistant professor in FSU's nationally top-10-ranked College of Criminology and Criminal Justice. "However, because we know that genetically influenced traits such as low self control affect delinquent behavior, and delinquents, particularly violent ones, tend to associate with antisocial peers, I had reasons to suspect that genetic factors could influence the odds of someone becoming a victim of crime, and these formed the basis of our study."

Beaver analyzed a sample of identical and same-sex fraternal twins drawn from a large, nationally representative sample of male and female adolescents interviewed in 1994 and 1995 for the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. "Add Health" interviewers had gathered data on participants that included details on family life, social life, romantic relationships, extracurricular activities, drug and alcohol use, and personal victimization.

The data convinced Beaver that genetic factors explained a surprisingly significant 40 to 45 percent of the variance in adolescent victimization among the twins, while non-shared environments (those environments that are not the same between siblings) explained the remaining variance. But among adolescents who were victimized repeatedly, the effect of genetic factors accounted for a whopping 64 percent of the variance.

"It stands to reason that, if genetics are part of the reason why some young people are victimized in the first place, and genetics don't change, there's a good chance these individuals will experience repeat victimization," Beaver said.

"It is possible that we detected this genetic effect on victimization because it is operating indirectly through behaviors," Beaver said. "The same genetic factors that promote antisocial behavior may also promote victimization, because adolescents who engage in acts of delinquency tend to have delinquent peers who are more likely to victimize them. In turn, these victims are more likely to be repeatedly victimized, and to victimize others."

Thus, write Beaver and his colleagues, victims of crime are not always innocent bystanders targeted at random, but instead, sometimes actively participate in the construction of their victimization experiences.

"However, we're not suggesting that victimization occurs because a gene is saying 'Okay, go get victimized,' or solely because of genetic factors," Beaver said. "All traits and behaviors result from a combination of genes and both shared and non-shared environmental factors."

And environmental factors can make a difference, he noted. The social and family environment in an adolescent's life may either exacerbate or blunt genetic effects -- a phenomenon known in the field of behavioral genetics as a "gene X environment interaction."

Co-authors are criminology graduate students Brian Boutwell and J.C. Barnes of Florida State and Jonathon A. Cooper of Arizona State University.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Florida State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Beaver et al. The Biosocial Underpinnings to Adolescent Victimization: Results From a Longitudinal Sample of Twins. Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, 2009; DOI: 10.1177/1541204009333830

Cite This Page:

Florida State University. "For Adolescent Crime Victims, Genetic Factors Play Lead Role." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 May 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090514153043.htm>.
Florida State University. (2009, May 20). For Adolescent Crime Victims, Genetic Factors Play Lead Role. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 31, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090514153043.htm
Florida State University. "For Adolescent Crime Victims, Genetic Factors Play Lead Role." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090514153043.htm (accessed January 31, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

CDC: Get Vaccinated for Measles

CDC: Get Vaccinated for Measles

Reuters - US Online Video (Jan. 30, 2015) The CDC is urging people to get vaccinated for measles amid an outbreak that began at Disneyland and has now infected more than 90 people. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama To Outline New Plan For Personalized Medicine

Obama To Outline New Plan For Personalized Medicine

Newsy (Jan. 30, 2015) President Obama is expected to speak with drugmakers Friday about his Precision Medicine Initiative first introduced last week. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
NFL Concussions Down; Still on Parents' Minds

NFL Concussions Down; Still on Parents' Minds

AP (Jan. 30, 2015) The NFL announced this week that the number of game concussions dropped by a quarter over last season. Still, the dangers of the sport still weigh on players, and parents&apos; minds. (Jan. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.S. Wants to Analyze DNA from 1 Million People

U.S. Wants to Analyze DNA from 1 Million People

Reuters - US Online Video (Jan. 30, 2015) The U.S. has proposed analyzing genetic information from more than 1 million American volunteers to learn how genetic variants affect health and disease. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins