Back to School at FamilyEducation.com
|

Expert Iconexpert advice MORE

Do the Gifted Turn to Crime?

Gifted and Talented Expert Advice from Rita Culross, Ph.D.

Q: I've read somewhere in the past that ridiculously high percentages of inmates in our prison system have high IQ's. Do you have any information with regard to these statistics?

A: According to Marylou Kelly Streznewski in her book Gifted Grown Ups: The Mixed Blessings of Extraordinary Potential, gifted people may make up as much as 20 percent of the prison population. Given that estimates of giftedness in the population range from 3 to 5 percent, her data suggests that the gifted are overrepresented in the prison population. The majority of inmates are young males, often from lower socioeconomic groups. (It is also true that their crime victims share those demographics.)

The more important questions relate to why the gifted become involved in crime. Although a certain level of intelligence is required for some crimes (e.g., computer hackers), it seems counterintuitive that bright people with potential would choose a life of crime. Some researchers have theorized that gifted individuals who turn to crime lack a well-developed sense of morality. They lack control over their own behavior or are not guided by a strong sense of right and wrong. The gifted criminal may consider crime a challenge: Can I do this and not get caught? Other researchers point to biological factors or inconsistent parenting as the origins of criminal behavior. A person who does not fit in or who feels isolated may commit crimes as a way to be accepted (e.g., in a gang).

As the tragic events of 9/11 have shown us, bright individuals can engage in evil acts.

More on: Expert Advice

Rita Culross is Associate Dean, College of Education, and Adjunct Professor of Psychology and Curriculum and Instruction at Louisiana State University. Culross has served as the consulting school psychologist for a public school elementary gifted program, and has written a book and several journal articles on gifted education.


Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks

highlights

Handwriting Headquarters
We've got handwriting practice worksheets, handwriting tips, and answers to your child's writing struggles, just in time for back to school. Brought to you by BIC.

11 Coolest Lunch Boxes for Kids
Send your child's lunch to school in style! Check out our picks for the 11 best lunch boxes with great features from BPA-free accessories to spill-resistant fabric.

7 Important Back-to-School Safety Tips
Follow these back-to-school safety tips to make sure your child stays safe on the way to school, in the classroom, and while on the playground.

Kindergarten Readiness App Wins Gold
Our Kindergarten Readiness app won the Gold Award of Excellence in the educational category at the 2014 Communicator Awards. This valuable checklist comes with games and activities to help your child practice the essential skills she needs for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

Join BIC on our mission to save handwriting and Fight For Your Write! Writing helps kids become better readers, boosts their confidence and sparks their creativity. Visit BICFightForYourWrite.com to sign our petition to save handwriting!