Poverty and a Lack of Education are Fueling Juvenile Crime
In the early 1960's, the epidemic of juvenile crime began to take shape. The problem of juvenile crime is becoming an increasingly pressing matter in America. Anyone who watches the news on television or reads the newspapers is well aware of the urgency and intensity of America's juvenile crime problem. Effectively establishing the causes of juvenile crime may help to deter it in the future. A proper solution cannot be executed until the root causes and reasons are exposed. There are undoubtedly many factors contributing to juvenile crime, but the focus should be on those which contribute the most.
The two factors which come most readily to mind are the extremes of poverty and poor education. Juveniles from poor communities are not even interested in becoming educated because there are not any decent paying jobs for them anyway. By not going to school, these juveniles are not are not developing the proper mental framework with which they can make good choices in life. The growing numbers of poor communities does not help the situation. It is old news that crime follows poverty. Americans should be concerned that juvenile crime is being fueled by a lack of education and poverty.
Poverty has three basic definitions which are absolute poverty, relative poverty and exclusionary poverty. An absence of the most basic resources such as food, shelter, and clothing constitutes absolute poverty. Relative poverty refers to those people who are poor when compared to the wealthier members of the society. Exclusionary poverty includes people without access to healthcare, proper nutrition, transportation, and opportunities for participating in community life. The references to poverty in this argument include individuals from all three categories (Ryerse).
The biggest differences between the upper-class and lower-class communities is the quality of education the youths receive and economic security. In upper-class communities juvenile crime exists, but it is far less common and severe than in the impoverished communities. Neighborhoods with a high concentration of poverty are at a much higher risk of having problems such as single-parent families, ineffective parenting, violent schools, high dropout rates, substance abuse, and high unemployment rates (Delbert, 86). Youths growing up in such an environment are experiencing violence daily and are destined to resort to violence themselves.
Poor communities have a tendency to be very unstable because of economic insecurity. Economic insecurity is caused by chronic unemployment. This is especially a problem in the inner-cities where, without jobs, people live impoverished and overcrowded lives (Parcels, 43). Since they are not able to sell their labor, they resort to illegitimate markets such as drugs and prostitution (Parcels, 43). The illegitimate businesses emerge because the communities cannot effectively resist them, and they provide some social organization and economy (Elliot, 86).
Unemployment is not the source of frustration and desperation that eventually leads to violence. A lack of income is, because it forces people into situations that they would choose not to be in. Robbery, prostitution, and drug dealing yield practical and immediate results. These industries naturally organize into street gangs which are known for their violent behavior. If these people were properly educated and lived in an economically secure environment, then there would not be any reasons for them to engage in crime.
Unfortunately, they are currently engaged in enterprises which are dangerous and extremely violent. These enterprises are attractive to the juveniles who are looking for status and a steady income. They are not interested in education or legitimate employment It does not make any sense for a juvenile in a poor community to have much interest in becoming educated in the first place. They know that an education will...
Cited: Chomsky, Noam. Interview with David Finkel. Chomsky on Capitalism. 1991. 27 Feb. 2003
Elliot, Delbert. "Environmental Factors Contribute to Juvenile Crime and Violence." Juvenile Crime: Opposing Viewpoints. Ed. A.E. Sadler. San Diego: Greenhaven, 1997. 83-94.
Hall, Gus. "Capitalism Causes Violence." Violence: Opposing Viewpoints. Ed. Scott Barbour. San Diego: Greenhaven, 1996. 120-125.
Parcels, Erik. "Capitalism Fosters Gang Behavior." Gangs: Opposing Viewpoints. Ed. Charles Cozic. San Diego: Greenhaven, 1996. 41-45.
Ryerse, C. Thursday 's child. Child poverty in Canada: A review of the effects of poverty on children. Ottawa: National Youth Care Network, 1990.
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