FLINT, MICHIGAN (CBS) – In cities where there are fewer men, violent crime is likely to spike.

According to a new study out of the University of Michigan, young people are 36% more likely to commit violent assaults if they live in an area where males are scarce.

The research, which focused on Flint, MI – a smaller city that’s been plagued by economic troubles and violence in recent years — used information from the Flint Police Department to calculate average monthly assault rates and compared it with sociodemographic data from the 2000 U.S. Decennial Census.

The researchers also found that in areas where a high percentage of people lack a high school degree, those between the ages of 10 and 24 were more likely to commit violent behaviors. In fact, male scarcity coupled with low levels of education explained 69% of the difference in youth assault rates.

“Interventions promoting effective social, material, and protective support from fathers and other adult male role models may ameliorate risk for youth violence,” researchers concluded.

According to the National Fatherhood Initiative and data from the 2011 U.S. Census, more than 24-million children live apart from their fathers, and nearly 2 in 3 (64%) African American children live in father-absent homes. One in three (34%) Hispanic children, and 1 in 4 (25%) white children live apart from their biological fathers.

The University of Michigan study’s researchers say theirs is the first study to be done that shows “a community-level association between the scarcity of adult men and adolescent violence.” It was published in the Journal of Community Psychology’s January 2014 issue.

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