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Biology and Violence: From Birth to Adulthood

NCJ Number
D W Denno
Date Published
230 pages
Information from 487 males and 500 females born in Philadelphia between 1959 and 1962 formed the basis of an analysis of whether biological or environmental influences are more significant as causes of violent behavior.
The participants were all born to the black mothers who took part in the Collaborative Perinatal Project, a national, federally funded research program. Information came from the Perinatal Project's data set of early biological and environmental factors, school records, and police records for juveniles and adults. The analysis focused on 100 predictors of violent behavior as well as on individual case studies. Findings showed that both biological and environmental factors influence criminal behavior among both juveniles and young adults. In addition, these influences are so interdependent that separating them is not always justified. Moreover, findings support a probability theory of behavior that views crime as a product of three categories of variables: predisposing factors such as psychophysiological influences, facilitating factors such as victim provocation, and inhibiting factors such as the socialization of acceptable behavior. Results also showed that many of the predictive factors are preventable. Tables, appended methodological information and additional results, index, and 422 references