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Brain injuries could turn kids into criminals later in life

London, Wed, 24 Oct 2012 ANI

London, Oct 20 (ANI): Young people who sustain brain injuries are more likely to commit crimes and end up in prison, a new study suggests.

Injuries caused by trauma to the head can cause maturing brains to "misfire," affecting judgement and the ability to control impulses, the Daily Mail reported.

The study, from the University of Exeter, calls for greater monitoring and treatment to prevent later problems.

Its findings echo a separate report by the Children's Commissioner for England on the impact of injuries on maturing brains and the social consequences.

In the new report, Repairing Shattered Lives, Professor Huw Williams from the University of Exeter's Centre for Clinical Neuropsychology Research, describes traumatic brain injury as a "silent epidemic."

It is said to occur most frequently among children and young people who have fallen over or been playing sport, as well as those involved in fights or road accidents.

The consequences can include loss of memory, with the report citing international research which indicates the level of brain injuries among offenders is much higher than in the general population.

A survey of 200 adult male prisoners in Britain found 60 percent claimed to have suffered a head injury, the report stated.

It also acknowledges there may be underlying risk factors for brain injury and offending behaviour but said that improving treatment and introducing screening for young offenders would deliver significant benefits in terms of reducing crime and saving public money.

"The young brain, being a work in progress, is prone to 'risk taking.' And so it is more vulnerable to getting injured in the first place, and suffering subtle to more severe problems in attention, concentration and managing one's mood and behaviour," Professor Williams said.

He added that brain injury is rarely considered by criminal justice professionals when assessing the rehabilitative needs of an offender.

"Yet brain injury has been shown to be a condition that may increase the risk of offending, and it is also a strong 'marker' for other key factors that indicate risk for offending," he said. (ANI)

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