Sexual assault is one of the most prevalent crimes in the United States, but a recent study considers genetic factors in predicting whether a man is likely to commit a sexual crime.
Researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, Oxford University in the UK, and University of Ottawa in Canada suggest genetics may help uncover the likelihood of a person to commit a sexual offense.
The study revealed that a man whose brother or son has already committed rape or a similar sexual offense is five times more likely to undertake the same type of crime than a man whose male relatives lead a normal life. Moreover, a father whose son has been convicted of a sexual crime is four times more likely to commit a similar offense.
The research team analyzed the data of 21,566 men who had been convicted of sexual crimes in Sweden from 1973 to 2009. From the sample, about 2.5 percent of the fathers and brothers of those convicted of sex crimes were also guilty of similar crimes. The team investigated cases of rape and child sexual abuse and discovered similar trends in both sets.
A statistical analysis showed that 40 percent of the potential risk is genetic, while the other 60 percent is triggered by a man's upbringing and environment.
"Experts offering families of sex offenders help should now also look at how to identify other male members of the same family with similar heightened impulses and teach them skills to cope with it," said Professor Seena Fazel, an expert in forensic psychiatry at Oxford and lead author of the study.
"We are definitely not saying that we have 'found a gene for sexual offending.' What we have found is high quality evidence from a large population study that genetic factors have a substantial influence on an increased risk of being convicted of sexual offences," Fazel clarified.
The findings of the study, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, assert that sexual assault has become an imminent threat to society, victimizing one out of four women. Males have also been found to suffer from sexual abuse, with one out of 10 men reporting an incident at least once in their life time.