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

Trends in American Violence

SOC 112

Part 5


Trends in violence

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

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 cont1

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 cont2

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 cont3

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 cont4

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 cont5

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 cont6

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 cont7

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 cont8

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

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

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 cont1

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 cont2

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 cont3

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 cont4

Data, cont.

- declining birth rate

(2) Economy

- strong = lower crime rate

(3) Social malaise

- increasing social problems

- racial conflict

(4) Abortion


Data cont5

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 cont6

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 cont7

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 cont8

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

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 cont1

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 cont2

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

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 cont1

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 cont3

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 cont4

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 cont5

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 cont6

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 cont7

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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