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Study: IQ, Exposure To Violence Could Predict Which Kids Will Commit Murder

Health McClatchy Tribune News Service National News

Study: IQ, Exposure To Violence Could Predict Which Kids Will Commit Murder


By Sarah Mervosh, The Dallas Morning News

DALLAS — These days, experts more or less understand what puts kids at risk for becoming criminals: using drugs, carrying a gun, even just believing that they will die young.
But predicting who will commit murder? Not so easy.
A new study by a University of Texas at Dallas criminologist found that it’s nearly impossible to predict which juveniles will become murderers. Only two factors distinguished them from other offenders: lower IQ and a greater exposure to violence.
But even more notable was what the study didn’t find. Mental health issues and drug use — two popular narratives to explain crime — didn’t predict which youth offenders would commit homicide.
“It’s not always the way people think it is. In fact, with respect to homicide, it’s nothing the way people think it is,” said Alex Piquero, a UTD criminologist and an author of the study.
Piquero studied about 1,350 serious juvenile offenders (mostly felony offenses) and found that just 18 had been charged with a homicide offense. Those offenders had an IQ of about 79, compared to about 85 in the other offenders. They also were more likely to have been exposed to violence, such as having been in a dangerous situation or witnessing an assault or rape.
“Almost everything else doesn’t matter,” Piquero said. “You always hear on TV that this person had mental illness or this person had this psychological problem. The world’s full of people who have a lot of mental illness or psychological problems, but most of them never commit homicide.”
The unpredictability of murder could help explain why they happen, Piquero said.
“Our best guess is they are situationally driven,” he said. “They are assaults and drug deals gone bad.”
The lesson, Piquero said, is to focus on improving childhood education and reducing neighborhood violence. “We all benefit from having a higher IQ and less violent society,” he said.

Photo via Rob Bixby via Flickr

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  1. Daniel Jones October 20, 2014

    Please note- *neighborhood* violence is not the same as video game violence or television content.
    Cut down on actual violence in the communities–like policemen shooting unarmed civilians!

    1. idamag October 21, 2014

      Darn straight.

    2. kenndeb October 21, 2014

      Sounds like you are using the liberal battle cry to stir up more violence. Even without ANY evidence, liberals were quick to blame the police officer, ready to lynch him, because he DEFENDED himself from a violent thug. Now that more evidence IS available, I don’t see liberals changing their tune at all, they still want to lynch the officer because the offender thug was BLACK. Yeah, I know, everyone is a racist if they don’t toe the regimes line.

  2. DAVE in VA October 20, 2014

    The only way we as a nation will ever get gun violence under control is by.
    1.Rebuilding the family structure, having too parents to teach firearm safety at home to their children.
    2.Teaching the kids that if they see a firearm contact an adult too handle it.
    3.Teaching firearm safety in our high schools.
    4.Having men standing up and being a father figure and a role model in a child’s life who may not have a father. I speak from experience on this one.
    I know that a lot of people here at the national memo don’t like firearms and gun owners in general, but we are not going any where either are you. We are stuck with you and you are stuck with us,we have to COEXIST together. The areas that have the highest crime rate also have the toughest gun laws, and the lowest education. The criminals know this and that’s why they like easy targets. The police are ten minutes away when seconds count, that gives them plenty of time to do harm to innocent people and get away.
    The NRA is one of the biggest supporters of firearm safety, they teach classes all over the country in all 50 states and some parts of Canada. They set the ground work for our police forces and for the hunters safety course. You may not like the NRA but they are leading the fight against gun violence in America. I am a life member and will always be one of five million plus and counting.

  3. idamag October 21, 2014

    The other day, I opened the door and the neighbor’s eight-year-old girl was pointing a toy gun at me. She said, “Bang” and ran home. I thought back to my own gun safety training. It started when I was very young. I pointed a toy gun at my brother and my father said, “You never point a gun at a person.” “It’s a toy.” I defended myself. He explained that we learn from toys and I would be spanked if I ever did it again. When we were old enough to hold a 22, we were took out and learned safety and how to shoot it. Guns were instruments and never an obsession. We did not grow up in a hateful home. On the other hand, I had a college professor of psychology who said it is predictable for some children to know they will grow up to be violent. He cited some cases. The next door neighbor girl has screaming fits so she is not popular with other children. I have scolded her for her cruelty to the family dog in the back yard. Will she grow up to be a danger?

  4. Harr Driver October 21, 2014

    In this related video, yet another reminder of why armed self-defense and the 2nd Amendment are so important: http://youtu.be/NB4vsODbdks


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