“Poor parenting” and a lack of male role models were a key factor in last year’s riots, a Government-commissioned report has concluded.
The report also pointed the finger at the materialistic culture and lack of values amongst young people.
Five people died during the five days of rioting, with thousands of crimes committed. The report estimated the damage to the economy at half a billion pounds.
Christian Guy, from the Centre for Social Justice, said: “This report appears to expose the damaging nature of social breakdown and its impact in fuelling the riots.
“The riots were a disgraceful warning shot from a drifting generation which is cut off from the mainstream of society.”
Critics attributed the riots to Britain’s “moral decline”, particularly family breakdown, and parenting was a significant theme in the findings.
The report said: “We heard from many communities where people felt that rioter behaviour could ultimately be ascribed to poor parenting.
“In a wide survey of over 900 young people, 58 per cent supported this view.”
It added: “We need to consider what can be done to ensure that all children get the right support, control and guidance from parents or guardians to give them the best possible chance of making the most of their lives.”
The report pointed to earlier research that showed children without positive engagement with their father and wider family were more likely to perform poorly at school, use drugs, go to prison and develop behavioural problems.
But officials found that 56 per cent of youth offending teams rated systems to re-engage absent fathers with children who were offenders or at “risk of offending” as bad or very bad.
The report said: “Professionals the panel has spoken with point to significant numbers of vulnerable children in some communities without any positive role model in their lives and particularly no male role models.”
A survey of 1,200 people for the report found that over two-thirds believe materialism among youngsters is a problem in their local area. 85 per cent said advertising puts pressure on young people to own the latest products.
The report acknowledged that the riots were “particularly characterised by opportunistic looting and very much targeted at brands”. Half of recorded offences during the riots were “acquisitive in nature”.