Over the past fifteen years we have seen a shocking increase in horrific violent crimes in America by children and teens: Children killing other kids at home, in schools, and the community; teenagers shooting or bludgeoning parents or others to death in cold blood.
This type of childhood violent behavior used to be extremely rare. Now courts often struggle with how to charge and sentence young children who commit murder. If there were a study of mice and the young ones began turning on others in such an uncharacteristic manner, researchers would immediately begin looking for answers, and they would no doubt start with brain functioning. We fail to do so for humans.
Behavior is complex, and factors ranging from the reinforcement of violence through video games and the media, to family issues and access to guns, are surely involved. However, we miss important clues by not routinely looking to the child’s brain, including these:
- Levels of nutrients in the body that impact brain function
- Possible adverse reactions to brain medications (eg. antidepressants)
- Environmental factors that affect the brain (eg. heavy metals) as leading indexes of violent behavior.
There’s a terrific free publication that focuses on the biological influences on delinquent and violent behavior: Crime-Times.
Until we start examining the brains of offenders through PET scans and EEGs, and studying the nutrient status, effects of medications, and environmental factors that impact the brain, we will never fully understand nor combat the issue of violent antisocial behavior.