Vol. 11, No. 2, 2005 Page 8


"The 1999 Annual Report of the United States Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention states that 52 percent of chronic violent offenders have their first referral to the justice system by the age of 13. Moreover, the recidivism rate for violent juveniles is 57 percent. Clearly, a better understanding of the causes and mechanisms of aggressive behavior would greatly enhance the development of preventive and treatment programs. The result of this lack of recognition of biological mechanisms for aggression is profound in more than one respect. Not only are possible treatment options being neglected, resulting in the loss of many individuals to a life of crime, incarceration, and injury to the community, but it is also possible that the current handling of juveniles may unwittingly aggravate their behavior. For example, if certain unrecognized environmental conditions contribute to prefrontal cortical impairment in aggressive individuals, then allowing ongoing exposure to these conditions will further aggravate prefrontal dysfunction, lowering the threshold for committing future acts of aggression."

Pamela Blake, M.D.

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