A lack of morality and not opportunity to commit crime led most teenagers to break the law in the UK, according to ground-breaking crime research.
The Cambridge University study found that a small number of delinquents will commit an average of 86 crimes each by the age of 16, with less than 4 percent responsible for nearly half of all youth crime, according to the Daily Mail.
The researchers also found that rather than arising from social circumstances, class disadvantage or other similar factors, the crimes stemmed from a lack of commitment to moral principles, a report in the Business Standard said.
The five-year survey of 700 teenagers aged 12-16 in Peterborough, UK — billed as the most comprehensive study of youth crime in Europe — found that people with a sense of right and wrong would still not commit a crime even if they had the opportunity to do so.
That finding, the Daily Mail wrote, suggested for the first time that it was not opportunity which made the thief, but rather morality.
"Many young people are 'crime averse' and simply don't perceive crime as a possible course of action." said Professor Per-Olof Wikstrom, who led the research group, according to a report on Press TV.
"The idea that opportunity makes the thief — that young people will inevitably commit crime in certain environments — runs counter to our findings."
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The study also provided insight into the 2011 London riots, explaining why some young people went on the rampage in some areas while others did not.
Weak social cohesion and lack of community spirit provided triggers for crime, while targets included city centers and rundown housing estates, where no one is likely to intervene.
Wikstrom said the findings could have profound implications for policing and youth crime policy in Britain.
"We need to focus on developing policies that affect children and young people's moral education and cognitive nurturing — which aids the development of greater self-control,” he said.