Can a baby help prevent crime?

    9:17 AM, Sep 19, 2012   |    comments
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    LONDON, UK (CBS) -- One of London's most dangerous neighborhoods is turning to babies to help fight crime. A unique experiment is underway to find out if what you see can really influence what you do.

    When the security shutters come down in this rough neighborhood of southeast London, there are baby faces all around.

    Store owners hope the images will keep criminals away. Tara Austin came up with the idea. She says, "You don't want to break to this please not just because there is a shutter there but because there are people there."

    Austin was looking for a way to fight the violence that swept through London last summer. Rioters set parts of the city on fire, looted stores and attacked police after officers shot and killed a young man.

    Imran Khan's cell phone shop is one of several with babies on the shutters. He says, "It's quite sweet. When people look at it they do think of their babies and their families."

    The company behind the project plans to monitor crime statistics for a year to see if these baby faces make a difference.

    Local toddlers were selected as 'models.' Some say it's naive to think the tender look of a newborn will stop a criminal. But researchers say it's not that far-fetched.

    Doctors at the University of Pennsylvania found big eyes and chubby cheeks trigger a caring response in the brain. Psychiatrist Daniel Langleben says, "The system that drives human motivation is increasing its activity when shown more of those baby features."

    If the project ends up making the neighborhood safer, more baby faces could pop up in other areas. An advertising agency paid local graffiti artists to paint baby faces on the shop shutters.

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