YOUR recent article on Dorset's increase in youth crime no doubt made those who hold dear the idea of a county unspoilt by the vices of the city double-check they were reading the right local paper.

According to the headline, no one knows the cause. But this doesn't stop the wannabe police and crime commissioners in the comments from announcing harsher punishment as the only solution.

The real reason there's more delinquency has little to do with soft coppers, or even with fewer police. In my opinion, our society's attempt to force everyone to be intellectual has led to some children lacking purpose and fulfilment in their lives, pushing them into subcultures where crime is just another leisure activity.

Those in charge centred their teenage lives around academia. Naturally, they think everyone else must do the same. But obliged to commit themselves to the textbooks at the expense of everything else, children who don't suit this upbringing aren't taught the value of work outside of school or how self-improvement can be done outside of the classroom. More dangerously, a lack of respect for authority can become ingrained.

For some teenagers, a non-academic education is better than an academic one. A job would give them purpose, teach them respect, and instil a sense of taking pride in work in a way school never could.

If we want to sort out the social problems that have caused this increase in crime, our society needs to radically rethink how it educates its teenagers.

THOMAS BRYDEN, Fitzmaurice Road, Christchurch