Pathways to aggression among high-risk girls: Disentangling genetic and environmental contributions

Rates of violence among adolescent girls in Canada and the US have increased over the last decade. As girls move into adulthood, aggressive behavior has been linked to a number of negative physical, social and psychological outcomes. High-risk girls account for rising costs in health care, juvenile justice and social service systems, but little research has focused on gender-specific responses to the problem of girls’ aggression. Adult and male risk assessment models are used with girls, without evidence that these tools are applicable or effective. Dr. Candice Odgers is mapping girls’ developmental trajectories across adolescence and early adulthood to identify the key risk and protective factors related to girls’ aggression. In particular, Candice is examining the impact of maltreatment and victimization on predicting aggressive behavior among high-risk girls. She is also working with leading genetic scholars to investigate how these environmental risks interact with genetic risk to influence disruptive or aggressive behaviour. This research examines the interplay of nature and nurture in the development of aggression and should lead to more effective, and gender sensitive, screening and treatment procedures for girls.