A new study suggests that brain injuries in children can lead to criminal behavior later in life. When a child sustains a brain injury (see here), many difficulties can arise in how their brain can function. Although some symptoms from the injury are apparent right away, others may take years to identify. Brain injuries can affect the way that a child’s brain develops; causing delay or dysfunction in the way they process information, perform physical tasks and in their social and behavioral aptitude.

University of Exeter Study
Professor Huw Williams of the University of Exeter in the U.K. released his report “Repairing Shattered Lives” that gave the details of his study on the effects of childhood brain injuries on judgment and impulse control. His study and another released by the University of Birmingham were both cited in a report on the issue of brain injuries and criminal behavior issued by the Children’s Commissioner for England, highlighting the need for detection of brain injuries in young offenders to prevent further criminal behavior.

Professor William’s study included a survey of 200 male prisoners on their childhood history of head trauma. 60% of the inmates reported having a head injury as a child, which is much higher than the general population. Since head injuries can cause developmental behavioral problems, identifying young offenders that may be suffering from these issues and treating them may reduce the amount that go on to lead adult criminal lives.

Traumatic Brain Injury And Behavior
Although these studies are recent, the fact that early brain trauma can affect behavior has been studied and acknowledged for some time. A study published in 2003 in the Oxford Journal showed a correlation between traumatic brain injuries, both moderate and severe, to behavior problems as soon as one year after the injury and lasting through the fourth year of the study. These children were two to three times more likely then those without brain injuries to have behavior issues.

Another study from researchers in New Zealand looked at the affects of childhood traumatic brain injuries years after the injury. The study looked at 81 cases of brain injuries in children 5 years or younger and followed their progress through age 13. Those who had severe brain trauma that required hospitalization had much higher instances of ADHD symptoms and conduct disorders compared to children with no history of brain injury. Even more alarming, the symptoms tended to get worse as the child grew older.

Brain injuries, especially in young children, can affect the way that the brain processes information and how it develops. It should not come as a surprise that children who suffer this type of trauma may have a host of cognitive problems, including how they behave and handle stressful situations. It can only be assumed that without treatment and counseling that these children could grow up to make poor choices, even criminal ones. The lesson to be learned is that any childhood brain trauma (click here) can have long lasting effects and should always be taken seriously.