According to a new study, genetics might be playing a role in the tendency of men to become perpetrators of sexual crimes. The findings have suggested that sons and brothers of convicted sex offenders are more likely than other men to be convicted for similar crimes.
Sex crimes might be running in the genes. A new research has suggested that the potential for perpetrating sexual offences could be encoded in our DNA after their findings revealed that sons and brothers of convicted sex offenders had a greater risk of being convicted of sex crimes themselves than other individuals.
The researchers examined the DNA from 21, 566 men who were convicted of sex crimes in Sweden. The data analysed was collected from 1973 and 2009.
Sons and brothers of the convicted criminals were found to be 4 to 5 times more likely to be convicted of similar crimes than men from the general population not related to sex offenders.
Why would there be such a connection? In attempts to explain the findings, the researchers found that only 2 % of the cases could be interpreted in terms of environmental factors: aspects of upbringing shared by siblings accounted for the familial links in only 2 % of the cases.
Surprisingly, the genes they shared had much more of an influence than the environment they shared, or so it appeared. In 40 % of the cases, genetics were found to play a certain role. In the remaining 58 % of the cases, it seemed that environmental factors not shared among family members but which had an impact on the offending person specifically were the reason behind.
Furthermore, genetic factors were more pronounced in child molestation cases (46 %) than for adult rape (19 %).
The genes that might be involved have not been identified though.
The results suggest that these factors might be inherited directly from parent to offspring. However, generally, environmental factors, shared or unique to the individuals, exert more of an influence on behaviour than inherited genes. At the same time, gene development is also affected by the environment, such that the genetic and environmental factors cannot realistically be separated.
Also, it is to be noted that the data generated by this study does not mean that sex offenders are helpless just because of the genetic factors.