DNA Testing For Clues To Violence

The vicious attack that took place on a Friday morning in December, 2012, at an elementary school in Newtown CT, left millions of people, worldwide, frightened, outraged and heartbroken. Grief replaced the season’s joy for millions as the killings of school-aged children and school staff were announced from news channels and radio stations worldwide.

Hope in Science

Unfortunately, this, and other tragedies like it, cannot be undone. There is little to say or do to comfort the grieving families, friends and community. But at the University of Connecticut, there are researchers taking action to prevent future tragedies like this one. These researchers will be conducting a detailed genetic DNA study of the killer, Adam Lanza, with the hopes that the study’s findings will be useful for preventing extreme acts of violence in the future.

Researchers’ Intent

Researchers from the University of Connecticut plan to conduct this DNA study of Adam Lanza, the 20 year old male who carried out this evil attack, to identify aspects of his DNA profile that may identify violent tendencies. What leads a young man, or any person, to commit such acts of extreme violence? Researchers are focused on finding a scientific explanation to answer this question. The answer, they believe, may be found in the genetic profile of Lanza.

Expert Opinions

This will be the first detailed DNA study ever conducted on a mass killer, according to a recent article in the New York Times. In the article, writer, Gina Kolata, discusses how experts share a variety of opinions regarding this study and whether or not its findings will contribute to preventing future tragedies like the one in Newtown, CT.

Some experts believe that aspects of the killer’s genetic profile, such as abnormalities or duplications, may be significantly different from others; but, it may also be similar to normal, nonviolent individuals, making this study one that is questionable. Other experts mention that several factors influence mental illness, and that it is just too complex to narrow it down to genetic evidence.

Past Genetic Studies

In the article, Kolata also provides information on past studies that involved genetic testing for identifying criminal behaviors; years later these studies were found to offer little hope. One DNA study revealed genetic similarities among individuals who exhibit criminal behaviors, but this study provided too small of a sample to count it as reliable. It provided little evidence that genetic testing results are useful for identifying and preventing criminal acts.

Finding a Solution for Prevention

Possibly, each expert is correct in some aspect, and maybe this study will not lead to useful findings. Yet, something needs to be done to prevent future tragedies from occurring. Even if the use of the findings fails completely, as one expert was quoted as saying, these senseless tragedies that leave families, and the world, in a state of mourning, grief and devastation must be stopped. That’s one thing all can agree on.

Image Credit: torbakhopper

Featured images:
  •  License: Creative Commons image source

Derek enjoys blogging about science and technology. The article above is for genetic dna testing.

Leave a Reply