Mental illness, addiction to alcohol or drugs and histories of physical abuse are common problems that are often associated with crime. A recent study now suggests that brain injuries suffered during childhood could also lead to criminal activity when one gets older.
The study, which was conducted by a professor of psychology, reveals some concerning long-term effects of brain trauma in childhood. Brain trauma can result in maturing brains to “misfire,” interrupting the development of impulse control, self-restraint and social judgment.
Considering that areas of the brain develop at differing rates, the meso-limbic region of the brain, which is related to rewards, develops more rapidly than other regions of the brain. And when the maturing of other areas of the brain that are meant to regulate and moderate the need for rewards are disrupted by head trauma, the need for rewards could result in taking more risks and committing crimes.
Brain injuries can result in other long-term consequences as well, including the inability to pay attention, concentrate or control behavior and moods.
With the understanding that an early brain injury can increase the risk of becoming an offender, more focus on identifying and managing brain injuries early on would ideally give children the proper support they need in order to avoid suffering from a variety of long-term consequences of brain injuries.
Should early brain injury be taken into account in cases of criminal conduct? Some experts say yes, adding that young offenders should be screened to determine if such an injury may be an underlying factor so that juveniles and other younger offenders can get the appropriate help they need in order to avoid criminal behavior in the future.
Source: Medical News Today, “Brain injury linked to crime in young people,” Catharine Paddock, Oct. 22, 2012
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