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Are serial killers like Jack the Ripper and Harold Shipman born killers? Are drug dealers like Pablo Escobar and Rick Ross influenced into their crime?
In 2016/17 there were 64 murder cases in Scotland alone. All of those who committed these incomprehensible acts of violence must have had a corrupt view of society. When people commit a crime, investigators are quick to try and discover why the person carried out the crime. What really makes people break the law? Is it the way they were brought up or were they born with inner criminal aspects?
Studies show that a missing gene, also known as the ‘Murder Gene’, can influence criminal actions. Professor Jari Tiihonen analysed the genes of 895 criminals from Finland, his findings concluded that criminals who committed minor crimes did not carry this set of genes, but violent criminals do infact have this distinct set of genes. For example, In Italy, September of last year, a man was charged with second-degree murder or manslaughter. He had his sentence reduced on appeal on the fact that he presented irregularity in the brain-imaging scans and 5 different genes that have been linked to brutal behaviour. ‘Including the gene encoding the neurotransmitter-metabolizing enzyme monoamine oxidase A (MAOA).’ After giving his verdict the judge said he found the MAOA evidence very interesting. Should we allow people born without this gene a reduced sentence if they are apparently not in control of the act they are committing? If criminals are born missing the gene, they are clearly not aware of the crime they are committing as they are born evil.
On the other hand, some people say that the crime was due to the way the criminal was brought up and the life they had as a child. By upbringing I mean the ‘criminals’ home life, relationships, school life and just general experiences in life. According to studies by The Guardian 80% of crime today in the UK is committed by people who have had problems as children specifically behavioural issues. BBC Bitesize says that people who are brought up in poverty are more likely to commit a crime than people brought up in a well-established environment. BBC Bitesize also says that studies of offenders by criminal psychologists have shown that many criminals have experienced ‘deprivation in childhood’. These studies have highlighted that if a child is brought up in a family where there is ‘poor parenting’ for example parents neglecting their child or if the parents have problems themselves such as alcohol dependency/drug abuse then the child is more likely to be involved in crime as they grow up. This does not mean that every child who has a under privileged childhood will turn to crime.
Childhood mental health problems can lead to poor grades at school, unemployment, very little earnings, potential teenage pregnancies and then marriage problems as well as crime. Flow Gov says ‘In a 2004 study, approximately 83% of students with emotional and behavioural disorders scored below the mean of the control group in reading, writing and math’ This does not mean that all people with mental health issues are criminals. People with schizophrenia are at an inflated risk in comparison to the general population to be condemned of non-violent criminal offences. They are at greater risk to be convicted of violent crime offences which also means that they are at an even bigger risk to be convicted of homicide. In countries with high crime rate, more individuals with schizophrenia have convictions for violent crimes than in a country with lower crime rates. So why does it matter? Schizophrenia is a destructive illness that in most cases limits the things they can do in adult life. They are often looked at as dangerous and unpredictable, the public fear outweighing the actual risk of being injured by an individual with a mental illness. The NHS says that schizophrenia occurs between the ages of 16 and 45 and those things such as the inability to laugh or cry, oversleeping and social withdrawal could be some of the first signs. Naturally people cannot help if they are schizophrenic and therefore the crime that they are committing is out of their hands because nature has made them that way. When people are told that the perpetrator committed the crime but has a mental health issue, they see it as an excuse for the criminal to potentially get away with the crime. However, I know that some people may believe that people are born with mental health issues, but I think they develop them through life.
Youth crime is a massive issue nowadays in the United Kingdom, in January 2015 the number of children in custody was 981 the first time that the numbers have ever fallen below 1,000. Youth crime is participation in illegal behaviour by minors. According to The Guardian children in care are six times more likely to be convicted of a crime than other young people. The Guardian also says, ‘About half of the 1,000 children in custody in England and Wales have experience of the care system, despite fewer than 1% of all children in England, and 2% of those in Wales being in care’. Children in care are often feeling angry, upset, alone and unwanted. Turning to crime could be their way of dealing with all these emotions but that obviously doesn’t make the criminal activity okay, but we can then come to an understanding, possibly quicker, conclusion about why they committed their crime and their motives. The Daily Mail reports that young offenders are ‘behind half of all robberies and 1 in 3 burglaries’. Children can often feel peer pressure or because they want to look cool in front of new friends or friends that are slightly older. They are often talked into things they don’t want to do so obviously they were not born that way but have been influenced into to doing these things that could be acceptable to others.
In conclusion, although it is proven that some criminals can be missing a gene which provokes these violent acts. I still believe that any action is a choice, with the right support and upbringing all potential offenders could be kept on the right path throughout their life. Unless further evidence comes to light about the murder gene then we must do more to ensure that the younger generation are not exposed to the sort of situations that could lead them to become the law breakers that we have been trying to abolish from society for so long.
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