Biological Causes

Many people have studied the delinquency of children and the possible biological causes.  Long ago, people thought that children who had mental problems were inhabited with the devil, or the demon spirits. In modern times, people have come to the realization that there are biological and cognitive explanations for these behaviors.  Most of the links for delinquency are leading to antisocial personality disorder, disruptive disorders, or aggression.  The disorders differ between races and genders.

Excessive aggression is a common childhood problem.  “During adolescence, these adolescents often exhibit increased rates of school dropout, depression, juvenile delinquency, substance abuse, and poor peer relationships” ( Özabacı, 2011).  If these behaviors aren’t corrected, they can lead to delinquency that is even worse and may take part in more intense crime such as murder.

Adrian Raine believes that brain scans can predict children who may become killers.  “More striking, they appear to predict antisocial behavior even before it happens… Kent A. Kiehl, an associate professor of psychology at the University of New Mexico, has described in The New Yorker a psychopath whom he encountered during his research: The man started with petty crimes as a child and was convicted of arson by age 17. After a prison stretch, he moved back in with his mother, got in an argument with her, and wrapped the phone cord around her neck when she tried to call for help. He then threw her down some stairs, stabbed her several times, crushed her head beneath a propane canister, and went out to celebrate with a three-day bender”  (Fischman, 2011).

In a case such as this, which is very common, being able to detect future murderers would be an incredible ability for our society.  “Over the years, Raine and several colleagues have shown that children from Mauritius who show slower heart rates and reduced skin responses when annoyed by loud tones or challenging questions tend to have criminal records when they get older. In 1996 the researchers showed that 15-year-olds with this pattern tended to have criminal records by age 29. In 2010, the age was pushed back further: 3-year-olds who had those physical responses were rated by teachers as more aggressive than other children five years later” (Fischman, 2011).  Raine believes that these types of children are insensitive to fear.  Normally a startling noise should make a child become highly alert.  The research indicates that the children who aren’t alarmed by the loud noises also don’t respond to punishment when they misbehave.  These children are very unemotional people in general.

While there are a few different biological explanations for why child delinquency may occur, we still may never know the true meaning behind why a child would take part in a crime like robbing a bank or a gruesome crime such as killing their parents.  Biology usually plays a part when it comes to crime, whether it’s children or adults.  The only question is if environment plays a part as well.

Fischman, J. (2011). Criminal minds.Chronicle of higher education,57(39), Retrieved from

Özabacı, N. (2011). Cognitive behavioural therapy for violent behaviour in children and adolescents: a meta-analysis. 33(10), Retrieved from

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