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12-year-olds with strong preferences for hip-hop, metal, gothic, punk, trance, or techno are more likely to already be engaged in bad behavior.

Over the years since Elvis Presley first shocked the world with his pelvis, outraged parents and public figures ranging from Pat Robertson and Tipper Gore to Bill Cosby have blamed popular music for corrupting the youth of America.

A new study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics agrees with them.

The four-year study, “Early Adolescent Music Preferences and Minor Delinquency,” finds that “preferences for rock, African-American music and electronic dance music indicate later minor delinquency,” such as shoplifting and vandalism. The same study found that kids who preferred conventional “chart pop” and “highbrow” music like classical or jazz revealed no increase in delinquency.

Following around 300 children in the Netherlands over the four-year period between the ages of 12 and 16, the researchers found that twelve-year-olds with “strong preferences for hip-hop, metal, gothic, punk, trance, or techno/hardhouse” were more likely to already be engaged in bad behavior, and continue acting out when they reach 16.

To quote the study, “early music choice indicates later problem behavior and not the other way around.”

“Music is the medium that separates mainstream youth from young people who may more easily adopt norm-breaking behaviors,” reads the study. “In peer groups characterized by their deviant music taste, norm-breaking youth may ‘infect’ their friends with their behaviors.”

In short, not only does preferring “unconventional” music indicate a kid more likely to act out, that kid is also more likely to influence those around him to do the same.

So for parents with 12-year-old kids holed up in their bedrooms rocking out to the sounds of acts like Death Grips, Mykki Blanco and Sunn O))) as opposed to the mainstream sounds of Taylor Swift or Michael Buble: be afraid. Be very, very afraid.

-Scott T. Sterling, CBS Local


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