Vol. 12, No. 3, 2006 Page 3


To the Editor:

Our association fully shares the views of The Wacker Foundation on the role of genetics and neurobiology in behavior disorders in general, and especially on the connection between ADHD and criminal delinquency.

Our association was founded over 20 years ago by parents of children with ADHD and maintains local chapters in 40 cities and communities all over Germany. Alone, the accumulated reports of generations of parents in our support groups are sufficiently convincing, that solely sociological approaches fail to address the real problems and needs of persons with ADHD because they tend to deny, ignore or underestimate the important role of genetics and neurobiology in this disorder and its social consequences for those afflicted. This experience-based conclusion is fully supported by the exciting scientific advances in our understanding of the neurobiological aspects of behavior, especially in the last 20 years.

Yet still, in spite of all the overwhelming science- and experience-based evidence, society, politicians, many relevant professions and the media are still wary of accepting that there is often more behind delinquent and antisocial behavior than just the expression of the results of freely made "wrong" decisions by individuals who purportedly would have been just as free to make the "right" decisions, but opted for the "wrong" ones out of their own free will. Neuroscience has meanwhile delivered enough knowledge and facts that seriously contest such simple explanations. [Editor's note: Indeed! Crime Times has published more than 10 years worth of research revealing the role of biological factors in delinquency and criminality.]

....This, of course, is by no means to say that we are all helpless victims of our biologically pre-determined fate and therefore not accountable for our actions.

But we can no longer ignore that human behavior is more than just the result of freely made choices out of a variety of different alternatives on the basis of equal opportunities and the same starting line for all. The full recognition and acceptance of the genetic and biological contributions to delinquent behavior would have consequences for all involved: society, our judicial/ punitive/correctional system, and the educational, medical and therapeutic professions. These consequences would mean that we would have to say goodbye to the common practice of just looking for who is to blame, if nothing else helps. Because the buck always stops at the same place: the "guilty" individual and/or his parents. If "the system" fails, or the teacher, the psychologist, the doctor, etc., they are all protected and unified by the explicit or implicit notion that they do not make mistakes, and if their efforts were to no avail, then it can only be the fault of the respective individual ("non- compliance") and/or his parents (who apparently didn't "raise him right"). We could save a lot of money which is being invested in building and maintaining penitentiaries and other "correctional" institutions by investing it into prevention programs, by helping children and youths with ADHD and other behavioral problems (and their families) effectively, before they develop delinquent or criminal behavior. But we will only be able to practice effective prevention if we recognize, accept and deal with the genetic and neurobiological aspects of behavior in doing so.

The practice of solving behavioral problems by identifying those who we can put to blame (always the individual and/or his parents), and dealing with them accordingly, is still popular and widespread, but, by all that serious science has proven and common sense tells us, obsolete.

Michael Townson, Chairman
AdS e.V.
Support Association for the
Advancement of Children, Youths and Adults with Attention Deficit/
Hyperactivity Disorder
Ebersbach, Germany

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