Trends in american violence
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Trends in American Violence. SOC 112 Part 5. Trends in Violence. Disgusted / fascinated by crime - turn away - reach for newspaper / grizzly headlines - stare at tv for hours (OJ Simpson) a. 1960s thru 2000s - sadistic / violent crimes

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Trends in American Violence

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Trends in American Violence

SOC 112

Part 5


Trends in Violence

  • Disgusted / fascinated by crime

    - turn away

    - reach for newspaper / grizzly headlines

    - stare at tv for hours (OJ Simpson)

    a. 1960s thru 2000s

    - sadistic / violent crimes

    b. Charles Manson / David Berkowitz / Green

    River Killer / Jeffrey Dahmer / OJ Simpson

    / Los Angeles riots / “Battle in Seattle”


Trends, cont.

c. Cling to each detail

- where body found

- type of weapon

- who is suspect

d. Makes unimaginable = imaginable

- how horrific acts committed

- and WHY?

e. We do this to:

- convince ourselves we are immune


Trends, cont.

- we are safe (world / lifestyle)

d. We are more vulnerable

- road rage: streets / highways

- unprovoked attacks: schools / work

e. We know it can affect us

  • Criminal acts

    - tells of the time in which committed

    - tells about society: values / mores


Trends, cont.

a. 1920s / 30s / 40s

- glamorized criminal

- Machinegun Kelly / Al Capone / Little

Boy Floyd / Ma Barker / Bonnie-Clyde

- St. Valentine’s Day massacre

b. Why a surge in crime?

- high unemployment / depression / stock

market crash / labor unrest / prohibition

c. Began to question middle-class values


Trends, cont.

- personal needs first?

- turning backs on those in need?

d. WWII / 1950s

- crime rate dropped

(1) Won important ethical / moral war

- trust in government

- provide for the people

(2) US economy strong


Trends, cont.

- people back to work

- respect for law

- business: best product / modest profit

(3) Family structure stable

- low divorce

- father worked / mother at home

e. 1960s / 70s / 80s

- dramatic increase in crime


Trends, cont.

- continued next 30 years

(1) Society values: changed for worse

- high unemployment

- factories closing

- recession / oil embargo

- race riots

- Viet Nam

- increase in divorce

- families unraveled


Trends, cont.

(2) Gangs developed

- ignored problem

- affected inner-city

- now we care

  • 1990s

    - demographic changes

    a. Wide spread prosperity reduces crime

    - lowest level since WWII

    - personal / property


Trends, cont.

b. 2000s

- Twin Towers (9/11)

- stock market falls

- corporate corruption

- business moving to other countries

- high unemployment

- crime starts increasing

  • Looking back

    - capacity for cruelty = constant

    - extraordinarily brutal crimes


Trends, cont.

a. Scare us the most?

- by strangers

- on the rise

- serial killings / mass slayings

b. Gang violence

- drive-by shootings

- killing of innocents


Sources of Crime Data

  • Primary sources

    - official record research

    a. Uniform Crime Report (1929)

    - crimes reported

    - arrests made

    - Part I: personal / property

    (1) Monthly reports

    - known

    - cleared


Data, cont.

- juvenile offenders

- property stolen / recoverd

(2) Methods used:

- crimes reported / arrests made

- crime rate per 100,000

- changes in crime

(3) Future of reporting:

- National Incident-Based Reporting


Data, cont.

- collects data on each incident

- brief account of incident / arrest

- 46 specific offenses

- hate / bias crimes included

b. Self-report Surveys

- recent / lifetime participation

- attitudes / behaviors / values

- most: juvenile / youth crime

- prison inmates / drug users


Data, cont.

d. National Crime Victimization Survey

- non-reporting issue

- representative sample: 149,000 (12+)

- victimization experience

- many crimes unreported

  • Changes in crime

    - 1830 - 1860: gradual increase violent crime

    - 1880 – WWI: crimes decrease

    - WWI – 1930: decline until 1930


Data, cont.

- 1930 - 1960: increase gradually

- 1960 - 1981: greater increase

- 1981 - 1984: decline

- 1984 - 1991: rate increase

- 1991 - 2004: rate decline

- 2004 - present: increase violent crime

a. Reasons for crime trends:

(1) Age

- graying of Ameria


Data, cont.

- declining birth rate

(2) Economy

- strong = lower crime rate

(3) Social malaise

- increasing social problems

- racial conflict

(4) Abortion


Data, cont.

- availability reduces crime

- better maternal / familial / fetal care

(5) Guns

- increased availability

- more teen access

- more powerful

(6) Gangs

- more likely to have guns

- crime associate with


Data, cont.

(7) Drug Use

- violent crime: crack / meth

- decrease in use / decrease in crime

(8) Media

- violent themed media

- TV violence = aggressive behavior

(9) Medical technology

- healthcare: reduces murder rate

- depends on availability of care


Data, cont.

(10) Justice policy

- increase in police numbers

- aggressive police tactics

- tough laws

- lengthy prison sentences

(11) Crime opportunities

- improved home / business security

- market conditions

- value of pilferable items


Data, cont.

b. Violence decreased 24% past years

- 1991 to 2004: murder dropped 40%

- increasing since 2005

c. Property crime: smaller decrease

- 1995 to 2004: declined 23%

- also increasing since 2005

  • Crime patterns

    a. Ecology of crime


Patterns, cont.

(1) Day / season / climate

- most crimes: during warm weather

- murder / robbery: December/January

- higher on first day of month

(2) Temperature

- association: inverted U-curve

- rise with rising temperatures

- decline around 85 degrees

(3) Regional differences


Patterns, cont.

- large urban: higher violence

- exceptions: transient / seasonal pop.

- economic disparities

- cultural values

b. Use of firearms

- play dominant role

- handgun proliferation / violence

- separates United States

- personal possession: a deterrent


Patterns, cont.

c. Social class / socioeconomic conditions

- a lower-class phenomenon

- instrumental / expressive crimes

(1) Inner-cities / high poverty areas

- prisoners: lower class / unemployed

/ underemployed

- law enforcement practices

(2) More serious crime among lower-class

- less serious: spread evenly


Pattern, cont.

d. Age and crime

- inversely related

- more crime than older peers

(1) Aging out

- peaks in adolescence

- declines rapidly

(2) Associated with:

- reduction in supervision

- increased social / academic demand


Pattern, cont.

(3) Participation in larger, more diverse / peer-oriented world

(4) Increase desire for adult privileges

(5) Reduced ability to cope legitimately

(6) Increased incentive to solve problems

in criminal manner

d. Gender and crime


Patterns, cont.

- data confirms: much higher for males

- differences: traits / temperament

(1) Emotional / physical / psychological

- masculinity hypothesis

- chivalry hypothesis

(2) Socialization / development

- girls: avoid violence / aggressive

- supervised more closely

- develop stronger moral values


Patterns, cont.

(3) Cognitive differences - girls

- superior in verbal ability

- more empathic

(4) Feminist views

- liberal: “second class” economic and

social position

- roles change: more criminal acts

- increasing at a faster rate

- changes in police approach


Patterns, cont.

e. Race and crime

- minorities: disproportionate share

- both Part I and Part II

(1) Legacy of racism / discrimination

- economic deprivation

- institutional racism

- police response / actions

(2) Social disparity

- family dissolution


Patterns, cont.

f. Chronic offenders / career criminals

- most commit single act / discontinue after arrest

- small number = majority of offenses

(1) “Chronic 6 percent”

- arrested 5 or more times

- 51.9% of all crimes

- arrest / court: did little to deter

(2) “Early onset”


Patterns, cont.

- early personal / social problems

(3) Persistence

- disruptive at 5 or 6: most likely

- apprehension / punishment have

little or no effect

- best predictor of future behavior:

past behavior


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