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Understanding the roles of genetics and traits in crime

You may not be surprised to hear that Buffalo continues to rank among the top cities in the U.S. in the number of violent crimes committed each year. In 2016, the city came in 15 on that list, according to Buffalo Business First. There were 2,887 violent crimes that year, including 41 murders and manslaughters, 1,033 robberies, 1,640 aggravated assaults and 173 rapes.

Out of four cities in New York that are considered major crime areas, Buffalo leads them all. Rochester was listed 33, New York City finished in 60 and Yonkers came in as 75 on the FBI list of the worst U.S. cities for violent crimes. Buffalo’s crime rate is triple the size of the national average.

According to the criminal justice website CorrectionsOne, there are many elements that contribute to a person’s likelihood of displaying criminal behavior, but it begins with genetics, which shapes not only the child but the environment they are raised in, the traits they develop and the decisions they make. In addition to genetic elements, age, drug use, marital status, education, employment, financial status and criminal history can all contribute to criminal development.

In assessing risk factors, several personal traits have been identified that can lead to criminal behavior, including:

  • Dysfunctional family: Typically, family members are unable to offer emotional support, solve problems, express emotions or communicate in an effective manner. They often commit crimes as well.
  • Anti-social values: A person’s rationalization or belief that criminal behavior is justified. Those with this trait typically blame others for their own bad acts and exhibit no remorse.
  • Low self-control: Impulsive and uncontrolled behavior exemplifies someone with this trait. This person does not consider the consequences of their actions or behaviors.
  • Criminal peers: Peers can be friends, family and acquaintances that engage in criminal acts, often in combination with substance abuse. These persons usually lack positive community involvement.
  • Anti-social personality: Someone with these traits usually shows irregular behaviors such as running away, lying, stealing, fighting and weapons possession before age 15.

Recognizing the role that genetics plays in shaping criminal behavior and understanding these traits and risk factors are important in understanding the behavior. Understanding can lead to effective behavior modification in helping at-risk persons avoid the cycle of repetitive criminal acts.

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