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Chocs away for children.

I'M feeling generous, so here's a second Brainless Wonder of the Week award.

Step forward soft-in-the-head parents.

Research has confirmed what the sensible among us have always known: that if you treat children like brats, they turn into brats.

Weak-willed, cowed parents continually cave in to "pester power," giving their spoilt kids anything they want, from junk food and sweets to tellies in their bedrooms.

Academics have now discovered that pandering to little Tommy's every whim creates a pattern of aggressive behaviour that could end up with him being thrown in jail.

Although this column is tempted to celebrate the incarceration of any lout - if they are banged up, they can't go around painting graffiti on churches and skateboarding up war memorials - I also recognise society will have to pick up the tab.

Scoffed Dr Simon Moore, of Cardiff University, studied details of those convicted of crimes of violence, between the ages of 29 and 34, and found that almost 70 per cent had scoffed sweets nearly every day in their childhood.

This compared with just 42 per cent of those found guilty of non-violent offences.

"Giving children sweets and chocolate regularly may stop them learning to wait to obtain something they want," says Dr Moore. "Not being able to deter gratification may push them into more impulsive behaviour, which is strongly associated with delinquency."

Of course, there's nothing wrong with the occasional bar of Cadbury's Old Jamaica or a packet of Fishermen's Friend for Tommy, especially on his birthday.

It is the insistent "Give, give, give - take, take, take" attitude that is wreaking so much harm.

And helping, meanwhile, to breed a generation of charmless brats.
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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Oct 4, 2009
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