DALLAS -- These days, experts more or less understand what puts kids at risk for becoming criminals: using drugs, carrying a gun, even just believing they will die young. Predicting who will commit murder? Not so easy.
A study by a University of Texas at Dallas criminologist found it's nearly impossible to predict which juveniles will become murderers. Just two factors distinguished them from other offenders: lower IQ and a greater exposure to violence. Mental health issues and drug use didn't predict which youths would commit homicide.
"It's not always the way people think it is. In fact, with respect to homicide, it's nothing the way people think it is," said Alex Piquero, an author of the study.
Piquero studied 1,350 serious juvenile offenders and found just 18 charged with a homicide offense and they had an IQ of about 79, compared with about 85 in the others. They also were more likely to have been exposed to violence.
"Almost everything else doesn't matter," Piquero said. The unpredictability of murder could help explain them, he said. "Our best guess is they are situationally driven. They are assaults and drug deals gone bad." -- Dallas Morning News