6. Biological Influences on Criminal Behaviour
This chapter has briefly covered a few biological influences on potentially criminogenic behaviours and underscored the interaction between the environment, a person’s experiences, and their biology. There is clearly a heritable component to antisocial behaviour, but a person’s gene expression, their neural development, and their brain chemistry are all moulded by that person’s experiences, which will influence their behaviour, for better or worse. Certain factors can increase a person’s predisposition for criminogenic behaviour, though it is still only a predisposition—a risk factor. However, such biological research has also shown many protective factors that can help decrease a person’s predisposition and inform intervention and treatment options.
It is clear that as a child’s brain is constantly developing, adversity; physical, mental and sexual abuse; starvation; and institutionalisation during childhood can have lifelong and transgenerational effects. This highlights the impacts that residential schools and systemic racism and discrimination in Canada have had, and continue to have, on the disproportionate number of Indigenous Peoples who have been incarcerated.