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Are Violent Genes Inherited?

Family Safety Expert Advice from Gavin de Becker

Q: I was adopted as a child. I recently found my birth mother and found out my father was a violent rapist. I have two teenage sons. Is there a hereditary predisposition gene that is passed on? I have heard that criminals pass on their violent genes. Is this true?

A: ''Nature versus nurture'' describes the ongoing debate about whether genetics or environment most influence future behavior. Unless you see behavior signals in your sons that concern you, I'd suggest forgetting about the issue. There isn't likely a ''rapist'' gene, and if your boys have grown up in a non-violent environment, that's likely what will guide their lives.

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Gavin de Becker is widely regarded as the leading U.S. expert on the prediction and management of violence. His work has earned him three Presidential appointments and a position on a congressional committee. He is currently co-chair of the Domestic Violence Council Advisory Board, and a Senior Fellow at the UCLA School of Public Policy.


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