Genetic link to domestic violence

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An academic says exposure to domestic violence in childhood can have a dramatic impact.

Nicola Graham-Kevan, a senior lecturer in UCLan's psychology department, says exposure to domestic violence in childhood can have a dramatic impact.

"Being brought up in a home where violence is used is associated with poor school attainment, bullying problems, poorer psychological health in adulthood, involvement in crime and anti-social behaviour, becoming a perpetrator and a victim of violence.

"While it used to be thought that these associations were the result of a negative environment alone, it is now known a large part of this is genetic.

"Tendencies towards violent behaviour are known to be inherited. However, early interventions have been found to prevent subsequent violent behaviour of 'at risk' children.

"What this tells us is that some people are more vulnerable than others to a negative home environment. This explains why many who have a very bad childhood do not go on to become criminal.

"Those that become violent are likely to have inherited 'vulnerable genes' that made them susceptible to a negative childhood environment.

"The factors present in 'at risk' homes include parents who have an aggressive personality. Aggressive parents often use very hostile parenting methods such as physical punishment, excessive criticism and shaming, lack of affection and bullying behaviour.

"Child maltreatment and cruelty to pets are also frequently present in families where one or both parents use violence against the other.

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