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Ashley Bunting Instructor: Malcolm Campbell English 1103 November 5, 2012
Violent? Thanks Dad.
Have you ever wondered why that guy on the football team always throws his helmet after a turnover, or why that girl always punches her locker after an argument? Well, have you ever considered how they were raised? Or how they’re parents acted?
Bunting 2 Or if maybe it’s even his or her own fault that they don’t control their temper? Several studies have argued that there are a multiple genes that can cause a person to more aggressive than an individual without those genes. (Fox). While other researchers argue that violence is a case of nature vs. nurture, this being said several people feel that being raised in a violent, harmful dynamics are the cause of violent children. People who study these circumstances often argue that violent surroundings cause for children to become violent adults who often commit violent crimes and create a drain on society. Other experts feel that both genes and environment are involved in making people act in an aggressive nature and trigger violent natured people’s nerves. After much conducted research, I’ve concluded that I feel that nurturing seems to be more logical and scientific but it is explicitly blatant that genes could possibly play a role in their aggressive nature. \ When evaluating the people in your life you will probably realize that there are
several people in your life who are positive, many who are negative, a handful who are free-spirits and a few who are aggressive natured. According to scientific means aggression means to intentionally cause harm to someone who does not desire such actions to be taken upon themselves; this being said several people who seem “aggressive” really aren’t and often aren’t and are truly just rude natured. This is an exploration of those people who are unable to be stopped when angered and often seem angry for a prolonged amount of time. (Beaver, Kevin M., Ferguson, Christopher J. Natural born killers: The genetic origins of extreme violence.”) Numerous experts have conducted experiments, studies, surveys and seminars that argue their research of genetic violent genes to be true. The researchers of this
Bunting 3 study have found that three variations of a particular gene have been linked to violence in young men. Experts have been working to prove that there are several different explanations of genetic deformations that cause violent, belligerent and aggressive natures and actions. One of these explanations is that there is a rare gene known as “monoamine oxidase AR2” or “MOAO form 2R” (speculated as the criminal gene, but not proven). Dr. Guang Guo, a research analyst at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, explained that researchers are not declaring this gene as a direct connection with aggressive criminology; he did however explain that one-percent of the population has this gene and almost every person classified into this category has also tested very high in the violent criminal category (Fox). Approximately 20,000 adolescent men in the grades of seven to twelve, across the country, were included in the study and each was interviewed personally, psychologically, observed and some were blood-tested to support Dr. Guo and fellows research. This gene has supposedly been seen in boys who’ve allegedly received the gene from their fathers and frankly have no control over their violent urgencies. “2R” has been argued to account for delinquent criminal behavior; the crimes that young men with this gene partook in tended to be violent crimes rather than nonviolent crimes. Boys with this gene have often been linked to crimes such as assault, domestic abuse, armed robbery, rape and murder (Fox). Another gene, known as dopamine transporter 1 or DAT1, has also been linked to violence within the male youth population. Dr. Guo’s team has been working to prove that this gene, DAT1, also provokes violence, stress and criminal activity. DAT1 serves as only half of the gene set however, the second half of the pair is the dopamine D2 gene, also known as DRD2, which serves as the receptor of the two
Bunting 4 genes. Together DAT1 and DRD2 supposedly cause anxiety, stress and bad behavior. While “2R” is specifically related to the actions of a person with such a mutation, DAT1 and DRD2 are only linked to violence if it is accompanied by outside stresses. However, the link in these genes is very, very specific. DAT1 and DRD2 are more often associated with issues such as family problems, low self-esteem, low popularity, failing grades and social awkwardness. These three genes all coordinate together; as previously stated DAT1 is a transporter, DRD2 is a receptor and MAOA form R2 is a regulator. “R2” carries chemicals such as serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine; these are all neurotransmitters that effect hostility, emotion and perception. Different mutations of these three genes cause varying outcomes. For instance, a young man with a particular form of DRD2 can be triggered by bad grades or irregular family activities and go into a rage full of violence and crime. Dr. Guo later discusses how family interaction can help to control and regulate the aggression of a guy with mutated genes. At this point these doctors and researchers are resting their faith in the evidence of genetic relation between mutation of the MAOA form R2, DAT1 and DRD2 genes in young men throughout the world. (Fox). A woman who was unstable conceived a man by the name of Harold Atkins and a man who was continuously violent, addicted to drugs and had authority issues; fortunately, Atkins’ grandmother was able to gain custody of Atkins when he was about one year old, and raise him as a better caregiver, sadly his grandmother was very poor and he was raised in a violent area. Right before Atkins’ grandmother gained custody his father, who was a strung-out alcoholic, committed murder and was sentenced to life in prison. Unfortunately, as Atkins grew up he became increasingly apathetic and
Bunting 5 dangerous. When Atkins was nearly 20 years old, with a son and another on the way, he reached his breaking point and pulled a gun on a man during an altercation; Atkins shot and injured the man, he was later charged with attempted murder and sent to prison where he served nearly five years for his crimes. While Atkins was in prison he realized there was more to his life than violence and crime and he began working to get his life on a better track for his future. His whole life Atkins knew he had inherited his father’s cruel, violent behaviors but he never realized the severity of his similarity to his father until he was imprisoned; also while he was imprisoned, Atkins realized his addictive personality and the negative impact it had of his life. While he was imprisoned Atkins turned his life around by becoming sober, began controlling his temper and enrolled himself in community college courses in order to study to become a youth counselor to help children in the same boat as him to become better people and avoid taking same track as him in life. Now Atkins worries that his sons may become violent natured if they’re not nurtured correctly, but Atkins believes that a child can be nurtured in order to prevent criminal, violent actions from occurring. (Dawson, WebMD). Similar to Atkins, Dr. Guo also claims that men with mutations of the DAT1 and DRD2 genes can be regulated by being surrounded by a loving, stable family with a strong support system regardless of their genetic make up. Dr. Guo says it’s far too early in his studies to know how addictive personalities would work in this kind of family dynamic. From Dr. Guo’s statements it can be inferred that he agrees that regardless of the genetic mutations a person has, they may be able to recuperate by having a good family dynamic. (Fox)
Bunting 6 In my personal opinion these genetic claims seem a bit too premature to be realistically accepted as defenses and explanations for violent crimes in public within the youth population. The reason I see things this way is because other than the laboratory results, researchers have virtually no other proof of such justification for criminal activity of people that supposedly have these gene mutations. Simply put, the ideas of these researchers are too underdeveloped for me to buy into it just yet. I believe, however, that with more research and stronger justifications that these theories could be built into justifiable defenses for delinquent actions. Similar to my opinion, the courts have yet to accept this scientific research as a widespread, acceptable defense, excuse or reason for crimes committed by men that are violent in some fashion. According to “Bad Nature, Bad Nurture, and Testimony regarding MAOA and SLC6A4 Genotyping at Murder Trials” judges will rarely listen to biological defenses, especially when there are domestic aspects to be explored such as longtime domestic abuse within the perpetrators family. Judges are more likely to accept the nurture defenses over nature defenses because it has long-term, widely been accepted that when a person repeatedly sees an action they see it as a precedent of acceptable behavior. This being said, a young boy who constantly sees his father abuse his mother may become accustomed to such actions and accept them as socially acceptable actions and partake upon similar actions. This being said, it has yet to be socially accepted that genes cause men to be more likely to be violent, yet it is fairly accepted that a person who may observe similar behavior repeatedly, may learn these behaviors and know nothing but what they’ve seen for so long. (Bernet, Farahany, Montgomery, Vnencak-Jones).
Bunting 7 Conclusively, research can sway a person to either side of this debate but despite developing theories most of the judicial system and general public has yet to support the scientific theories. Due to weak arguments, little proof and shaky testimony people are less likely to buy into the argument of genetics influencing whether or not a person will be violent and criminally active; most people prefer to support and believe the argument of nurturing being the cause of violent, delinquent young men. Nurture versus nature will always be a debatable subject but in this case it is currently accepted moreover that nurturing is more accepted and more easily proven than genetics that can’t fully be proven.