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Study links strong genetic component to sex offender behaviors

For decades now, medical researchers have been mapping the human genome and conducting human trials of genetic testing. As a result, today an individual who fears that he or she may develop the same deadly form of cancer as a parent can undergo genetic testing. Increasingly, scientists are also studying and examining the role that genetics may play in influencing human behavior.

A recent study conducted by researchers at Oxford University and the Karolinska Institute aimed to determine what, if any, role genetics may play when it comes to criminal behavior and sex offenders. Over the course of more than 25 years, scientists analyzed data from more than 21,000 sex offenders.

When comparing the data from study participants against those of the general population, scientists discovered that roughly "2.5 percent of brothers of convicted sex offenders were themselves convicted of sexual offenses." Based on the study's findings, it appears that, when it comes to sex offenders, there is a significant genetic link.

In fact, the study's findings indicate that a man who has a brother that commits a sex crime may be "up to five times more likely than average to commit a similar crime." Researchers note that, in the future, genetic research like this may be useful to law enforcement officials when investigating sex crime cases.

While the findings of this study are noteworthy and warrant additional examination, this type of information can also prove to be dangerous if used to justify infringing upon the rights of everyday citizens. Every individual has free will and a genetic link does not mean that he or she is destined to commit any type of crime.

Source: BBC.com, "Study into gene link in sex attackers," April 9, 2015

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