Subscribe to the BioNews newsletter for free

Login
Advanced Search

Search for
BioNews

Like the Progress Educational Trust on Facebook




 

Emotional cost of bullying made worse by genetic makeup, experts claim

02 August 2010

By Dr Aarathi Prasad

Appeared in BioNews 569

Scientists have found evidence to support a relationship between genetic make-up and emotional response to childhood bullying.

The study assessed 2,232 British children for variants of the 5-HTT (serotonin is 5-hydroxy-tryptamine) gene that encodes for a serotonin transporter. After pre-bullying problems and other risk factors were taken into account, results showed that variation in the gene moderated the development of emotional problems following bullying.

If children who were frequently bullied also carried the SS variant of the gene, they were found to be at greater risk of developing emotional problems at age twelve than were children with SL or LL variants.

The children, who were all same-sex twins, were evaluated at five and twelve years of age through interviews and checklists with parents and teachers, and their DNA samples analysed to determine which form of the gene they carried.

Professor James Hudziak, a paediatric psychiatry expert at the University of Vermont, said ‘These designs have moved us well beyond the fiery but misguided debates about nature versus nurture’.

‘We have learned that both domains affect psychopathology, exerting effects that sometimes act independently of one another and sometimes interactively, as when risk DNA variants make some children more susceptible to the onset of illness’.

The findings follow a similar study in Mexico, which found that young girls carrying the same SS variant were subject to significant stress as a result of bullying, which led the researchers to suggest that children’s genetic make-up should be taken into account in the monitoring and prevention of bullying.

The research was carried out at King’s College London and Duke University in the US, and is published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.


RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE BIONEWS ARCHIVE

30 April 2012 - by Luciana Strait 
Children who have been physically abused or bullied are more likely to have shorter telomeres. These structures, found at the ends of chromosomes, act like the plastic caps on shoelaces, and prevent DNA strands from unravelling...
24 October 2011 - by Dr Rebecca Robey 
Living conditions during childhood may have a long-term effect on DNA, according to new research by British and Canadian scientists. The findings, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, may explain why some people who grow up in socioeconomic deprivation have health disadvantages later in life, despite improvements in their living conditions in adulthood...
19 September 2011 - by Suzanne Elvidge 
Good and evil have always been moral perspectives, but this edition of BBC One's science programme Horizon has pulled them firmly into the scientific realm, with an analysis of the science behind good and evil....
28 February 2011 - by Owen Clark 
A new study has demonstrated that levels of a hormone involved in the response to stress could explain why some people develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The research, conducted by scientists at Emory University and the University of Vermont in the US, studied a group of patients considered at high-risk of developing PTSD...

26 April 2010 - by Dr Tom Dickins and Sima Sandhu 
The models emerging from behavioural biology are increasingly sophisticated. They do not undermine the quest for candidate genes, but rather augment our understanding of why those genes might persist in populations and be differentially expressed across circumstances....
08 November 2009 - by Nienke Korsten 
An Italian court has reduced the sentence of a convicted murderer by a year based on evidence that he carries genetic mutations linked to aggressive behaviour. This is the first time that genetics have been considered a mitigating factor in a European court sentencing....
01 October 2006 - by Dr Mairi Levitt 
We're not arguing that genes made him do it but if violent behaviour is genetic then it is probably treatable'. This comment by a US lawyer on behalf of his client (who was eventually executed for murder last year) sums up the hope invested in research into violent and antisocial...
07 October 2002 - by Juliet Tizzard 
This week saw the publication of a new and much anticipated report by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics on the ethical issues arising from research into behavioural genetics. The report, entitled 'Genetics and human behaviour: the ethical context', is a weighty publication, the result of 18 months of fact finding...

HAVE YOUR SAY
Be the first to have your say.

You need to or  to add comments.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions


- click here to enquire about using this story.

Published by the Progress Educational Trust
Advertise your products and services HERE - click for further details

Good Fundraising Code

Become a Friend of PET HERE and give the Progress Educational Trust a regular donation