Why young people commit crime and how moral education could help – new research

 

There is a significant link between moral emotions and offending behaviour in young people. Moral emotions are learnt – and more attention needs to be given to the teaching of morals in childhood to address this link between morality and crime.

My research has proved that young people are more likely to carry out violent acts if they have weak empathy, shame and guilt, and if they do not feel violence is wrong. On the surface, this may seem obvious, but the research provides a new, evidence-based clarity about the decisions that lead to crime. It was previously thought that other personal factors – such as lack of self-control or social disadvantage – or external factors like the opportunity to commit crime were at the root of why crime occurs.

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