Head injury linked to increased criminal offences in youth

Washington DC [USA]: Head injury in adolescents is associated with increased criminal offences, reveals a study.
The study was published in the journal Justice Quarterly.

“These results provide preliminary evidence that acquired neuropsychological deficits, and head injuries more directly, result in prolonged periods of criminal persistence,” suggests Joseph A. Schwartz, the study author.

The study interviewed 1336 previously adjudicated youth between 14 to 19 years, over 7 years. Mostly the sample size had males who came from different ethnicities. They were questioned about criminal behaviour and the criminal justice system.

Out of the 1336 participants, one-fifth sustained head injuries during the study while one-third already had a head injury prior to the study.

During the study, researchers studied the effect of changes in individuals who had head injuries, on longitudinal trajectories of arrest and monthly reports of overall violent and non-violent behaviour. Factors like impulse control, intelligence, pre-existing dysfunction of the prefrontal cortex, family support and socioeconomic status were taken into account.

Researchers found that individuals who were more involved in the criminal justice system reported five to eight times more injuries than common people.

It was also found that the youth indulged more in violent offences after a head injury.

Youth who had a head injury were more likely to be arrested (or commit more non-violent offences) than those who didn’t have such an injury.

“The impact of head injury on offending behaviour is likely the result of neuropsychological deficits that compromise normative brain development,” Schwartz opined.