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Social Problems - Chapter 7 (1).doc

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Social Problems Chapter 7: Crime and Violence Introduction: -Crime is a social problem because it has real effects on people’s health, safety and well being -It reduces people’s trust in social institutions, their willingness to participate in community life, and it compromises cohesion -The fear of crime and the aftermath can damage central institutions like: schools, family etc. This then prevents our ability to carry out the most basic social activities like raising our children and learning -Crime is also a social activity -It has social causes and effects -Men are more likely than women to be involved in violent crimes as victims as well as perpetrators -Differential Socialization provides the best explanation for this pattern -Some argue that criminal behavior is a result of rational calculation that takes into account the risk and rewards -Crime will increase wherever social inequality increases -Some argue that prisons will fix the problem, while others argue that prisons cause it -Moral Panics tend to run rampant where crimes are concerned Defining Crime, Laws and Social Order -Law: Formal rules about what societies members can and cannot do -Crime: Any behaviour that is prohibited by law -Social Order: Harmonious relationships; exists when rules are obeyed and social situations are controlled -Social Disorder: Uncertain and unpredictable condition where rules are not obeyed -Order must be manufactured and protected, the best circumstances are when a social order emerges that is accepted widely Crime in Canada and Elsewhere -The crimes that are common, easily investigated and cheaply prosecuted account for most of our criminal statistics at any given time (mainly simple assaults, street crimes) -Changes in a crime rate reflect changes in reporting and prosecution of particular crimes, as well as a victims’ willingness to report a given crime -Most criminal statistics (for conviction and imprisonment) offer a bad reflection of crime in Canada -Victimization Statistics provide a stronger, but not always reliable picture -The criminal justice system operates like a funnel: Many criminal incidents -> A few are reported -> Even fewer result in arrests and convictions, let alone prison -When criminal statistics change, we have trouble knowing if this reflects a change in incidence or in the enforcement of laws against crime -In the past decade, Canada’s crime rate has been steadily falling (as well as the severity of the crime) -Measuring the total rate of crime in Canada proves to be difficult because police reporting and self-reporting are typically incomplete -Self Reporting: Victim reports are direct, but not reliable because changes in the crime rate can affect a victim’s willingness to report -Victimization Reports: People are asked how many times within a time period they have become a victim of a crime -In 2008, a decrease in the number of break-ins made a key contribution to a drop in the severity of overall crime in a 10-year period. Over the same period the seriousness of less frequent violent crimes remained the same. -Overall, crime severity fell by 20% from 1998-2008, driven by a 40% drop in break-ins Crimes of Violence -Violent crimes comprise about 10-12% of all crimes reported in Canada -Men are more likely to be involved in homicides than women -Killers: 88% -Victims: 67% -Homicides account for 0.4% of all crimes in Canada, making them rare -By contrast, assaults are common - 90% of all violent crimes reported -Repeated stalking is reported by 62% of young adults -Most stalkers are former inmates, and they are more likely to be men -Compared to battered women, women who are relentlessly stalked report more severe violence, sexual assault and abuse after separation Non-Violent Crimes -Vice Crimes: Deviant behaviour that may be found as immoral such as gambling, prostitution or drug abuse -These vice crimes provide the greatest opportunities for organized crime -White Collar Crime: Crime committed by management, performed during the course of normal work and occur in reputable organizations -White collar crimes prosper where the governments fail to monitor the economic marketplace -In Capitalist Societies, these crimes have a lower priority than conventional crimes, despite evidence that they harm a much larger number of people than street crime does Organized Crime -Organized Crime: professional criminals that are coordinated through a system of bosses -They are famously involved in Vice Crimes -Worldwide, the value of organized crime is between $600 million and $1.5 trillion -Early sociologists believed that crime results from poverty, and crime in poor neighborhoods results from social disorganization: more social disorganization means more crime -However those views changed and crime came to be viewed as a basic part of city life -Modern organized crime today operates at the crossroads of legit and illegitimate business -Crime is a learned, organized, social activity with historical and cultural roots, not disorganized -Organized Crime prospers under 4 Key Conditions: 1. Conditions of Inequality: Common in poor communities w inequality 2. Prejudice: It is common where prejudice keeps people from moving easily to find work elsewhere 3. Protection: O. Crime provides protection in areas where there is a lack to welfare, education and decreased police presence 4. Lacking Human/Cultural Capital: O. Crime flourishes where people do not have these two forms of capital -Capitalism, neo-capitalism, and neo-feudalism produce these conditions -Rapid change provides a breeding ground for organized crime The Demography of Crime: 1. Gender - Offenders -Gender gap in crime is nearly universal -One exception is the rate of female victims killing their partners; nearly as high as that of men -Adults charged with a criminal offense in 2004: 18% female -Youth charged with a criminal offense in 2004: 23% female -Men are... -7x more likely to commit arson -9x more likely to commit murder -10x more likely to commit robbery -35x more likely to discharge a firearm -Generalization: Men are more likely to commit crimes than women, but the gender gap varies depending on the crime -Signs the gender gap is starting to close -This is true especially among youth -Females 17 and under in violence offense charges: -1984: 19% ----> 2004: 23% -Differential Socialization: process whereby individuals learn to behave in accordance to prevailing standards of culture or gender -Differential socialization is the cause: male subculture is more violent and young males are encouraged to use violent behaviors to solve problems The Demography of Crime: 2. Gender - Victims -Victims are also mainly male -Exceptions: Females are disproportionately the victims of sex-based crimes -Domestic abuse is especially problematic in cultures that subscribe to a patriarchal world view -A social explanation for the disproportionate representation of women in sex-based crimes is the continued ambivalence that North America holds towards sex and female sexuality -Women who take control of their sexuality are characterized as tramps/sluts -Gender equality, in the long run, may reduce rates of sexual abuse The Demography of Crime: 3. Age -As the Canadian population has aged, crime has dropped -Young people are more likely to be unemployed and work in low wage jobs -Merton argues that they are likely to use criminal innovation to reach their goals -Young people have less investment in old, conventional ways of doing things -Where there is large groups of young men, there will be high risks of crime -Especially true of cities with high unemployment and high rates of immigration from less developed countries -Crime rates reflect at least three realities: 1. Actions of Criminals: They commit crimes that are measurable and measured 2. Activities of Victims: Whether they choose to report, or choose not to 3. Actions of Police: They may or may not lay charges, once a crime has been reported Demography and Community Correlates of Criminal Victimization -Higher Risk of Victimization: male, young, unmarried, unemployed -Many factors determine the safety of a neighborhood: vitality, cohesion, trust, resources, etc -In general, crimes go up when neighborhoods decline -With drops in household income, crime increases -A vicious cycle is established: cohesion goes down and crime goes up Suitable Targets -Suitable Targets: are people who are routinely exposed to crime or have heightened vulnerability (taxi drivers). -Gays/Lesbians have a higher risk due to hostile public attitudes -Tourists have a higher risk because they are in a strange place -3 Characteristics Increase Risk of Victimization: 1. Vulnerability: Physical weakness, psychological distress 2. Gratifiability: Example: female gender for a crime of sexual assault 3. Antagonism: Example: an ethnic group that may spark hostility or resentment -Poor and powerless people are most likely to be vulnerable EXCEPT when it involves stealing personal properties, then the more rich are more likely to have property stolen -Men are more likely to be victimized by strangers, while women are more likely to be victimized by intimates (e.g women are more likely to be killed by a spouse in domestic settings, while men are more likely to be murdered by a stranger in public) -Elderly people run a higher risk of victimization than middle aged people -Robbery is the most common crime committed against the elderly (men and women equally likely) -Risk of theft-related homicide is also high among elderly victims -Risk is particularly high among socially isolated seniors -Juveniles are more likely than adults to be victims and are more likely to know the people who victimize them -Males in high school report higher victimization (Calgary) (except with sexual crimes) -Immigrants are at higher than average risk as well, could be from hate crimes -
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