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Parents A Major Factor In Kids’ Violence, Study Finds

First Posted: Sep 01, 2016 04:54 AM EDT
Distressed Child
Parents with mental health problems are prone to having kids with violent tendencies, a study from Denmark says. PublicDomainPictures CC0

In the debate regarding nature versus nurture, it seems that genetics goes a long way. Kids who have parents diagnosed with psychiatric disorders may actually be at an increased risk for attempting suicide or committing offenses related to violence. Having both parents have these disorders pose an even greater risk.

The study conducted by scientists in Denmark showed a wide spectrum of psychiatric problems including anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, schizophrenia, substance abuse, and even suicide attempts. Of all the conditions among them, the strongest associations with violence are seen in kids whose parents had a history of abusing marijuana, antisocial personality disorder, and a previous attempt at suicide.

According to the study published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, children whose parents fell into any of these three groups are at the greatest risk for suicidal behavior and violence as they get older. Furthermore, when there is a history of mental illness in both parents, children also double the risk for attempting suicide and committing violent offenses themselves, compared to those who only have one parent affected.

Pearl Mok, research associate in the division of psychology and mental health at the University of Manchester in England and the lead author of the study said that nature and nurture still play a very important role in mental health disorders - their research showed that suicidal and violent tendencies appear in families, but the reason why this is so remains unclear.

As Live Science mentioned, while certain factors may run in families that allow them to share a genetic vulnerability to psychiatric disorders, environmental factors should not be overlooked: children whose parents have a history of psychiatric diseases and substance abuse may be exposed to more adversaries at home such as abuse and neglect, financial hardship, and inadequate parenting practices that leave them in the violent lifestyle that they know of.

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