Morality, not poverty

The Daily Mail reports:

Children commit crime because they lack morals and not just because of the environment they live in, according to a new study.

Cambridge University studied around 700 young people in Peterborough for over a decade and discovered that most adolescent crime is not just youthful opportunism.

In fact, while it is agreed that urban environments trigger some young people to commit crime, it is their morality which is the biggest factor.

Other teenagers remain highly resistant to committing crime – regardless of the circumstances.

Many of us know people whose background would be one, where a life of crime might be expected. But they chose not to.

The Peterborough Adolescent and Young Adult Development Study was carried out by Cambridge’s Institute of Criminology.

And it found that rather than crime being widespread among teenagers, a tiny band of delinquents have each committed a staggering 278 crimes by the age of 16, say researchers.

The thugs, who make up less than 4 per cent of the teenage population, are responsible for nearly half of youth offending, they found.

The ones who have a dozen convictions by their 21st birthday.

The researchers found that 60 per cent of the 16,000 offences were committed by a ‘crime-prone’ 16 per cent of those studied, including the hard-core of 3.8 per cent.

They committed an average of 86 crimes each between the ages of 12 and 16.

This group admitted having the weakest morals, being impulsive and short-sighted, and having no self-control.

The 16 per cent most ‘crime-averse’, who were judged to have the strongest values, accounted for only 0.5 per cent of the crimes reported.

A lack of moral compass, rather than the opportunity to commit crime or social background, was revealed to be the most important factor in youths breaking the law.

The research, which is the most comprehensive study of youth crime in Europe, found that teenagers who avoided crime did so not because they feared the consequences or lacked the chance, but because they saw it as wrong. Professor Per-Olof Wikstrom, who led the Cambridge study, said: ‘’Many young people are ‘crime-averse’ and simply don’t perceive crime as a possible course of action – it doesn’t matter what the situation is.

The idea that opportunity makes the thief – that young people will inevitably commit crime in certain environments – runs counter to our findings.

‘Rather, only the “crime-prone” become vulnerable to said opportunities when taking part in environments with a moral context that encourages or at least does not discourage crime.’

But of course no article complete without someone banning society:

But Camila Batmanghelidjh, the founder of Kids Company, a charity that works with disadvantaged children, cautioned against branding some young people as amoral.

She said it was ‘a given that it’s a good thing to teach right from wrong’, but added: ‘Society is lecturing children and young people about how well behaved they should be but it’s not behaving in a way that warrants respect.’

Yes, the problem is society is not behaving in a way that amoral young thugs respect!

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