Destructive Impact

Science News has a cover article on the psychology, neuroscience and genetics of how violence and anti-social behaviour develops in young people.

The article examines how human biology and the influence of family and social life interact to increase the chances of violence and bullying in some, while leaving others able to control their actions despite being subject to hostile experiences.

Henry’s story highlights a theme that is attracting increasing scientific attention: Like all children, chronic troublemakers and hell-raisers respond to a shifting mix of social and biological influences as they grow. Some developmental roads arc relentlessly toward brutality and tragedy. Others, like Henry’s, plunge into a dark place before heading into the light of adjustment.

Developmentally minded researchers are now beginning to map out violence-prone paths in hopes of creating better family and school interventions. New evidence indicates that a gene variant inherited by some people influences brain development in ways that foster impulsive violence, but only in combination with environmental hardships. Other studies explore how family and peer interactions build on a child’s makeup to promote delinquency.

Separate work examines ways to counteract the malign effects of bullying rituals and other types of coercion in schools.

“Violence is such a complicated issue,” Twemlow says. “There’s always a set of preconditions to violent behavior and never just one cause.”

Link to ‘Destructive Impact’ from Science News via Mind Hacks