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Vermont Law Review



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One of the many goals of the Biosocial Study that I directed was determining whether there were gender differences among the numerous possible correlates of crime that the study examined. The purpose of my presentation today is to describe the Biological Study and its results, particularly as they relate to gender differences in crime. Another aim is to respond briefly to some of the potential political reactions to the study, despite its results. I will begin with a quick account of historical attitudes toward gender differences in crime. I will then discuss the Biosocial Study and its major findings relevant to the prevalence and prediction of crime. Very generally, the study demonstrated that: (1) males commit substantially more crime overall, and violent crime in particular, than females; and (2) sociological and environmental factors are somewhat stronger predictors of crime among males, whereas biological factors are somewhat stronger predictors of crime among females. One of the most intriguing facets of this gender distinction is the especially strong link between lead poisoning and crime among males, an association that has current and increasing support in scientific research. Lastly, I would like to take issue, albeit briefly, with some of the criticism of biosocial research on criminality. In light of the findings I present, I ask, “What are we afraid of?” And in terms of future research I ask, “What more can we do?”

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Criminal Law Commons