Poverty and crime

By Klaus Döring

Due to the hardships in life caused by poverty, many people can’t even get enough money to live. This causes them to do whatever it takes to be able to sustain their and their family’s needs even when it involves stealing. The researchers observed that the major reason for theft is poverty.

Over and over again, it is seen that burglary, robbery and serious assaults occur most frequently in the area where shanties are and the family income is so low that it cannot suffice the needs of the family. The houses are extremely overcrowded with few facilities.

When things go bad, and people become desperate, the tendency is to practice drastic measures to survive. There was never a day that there was no news reported on television about the arrest of a person because of theft. Usually, the motive of stealing is to provide for the suspect’s economic needs. The linkage between poverty and crime was already proven when Nobel Laureate Gary Becker stated in 1968 in his Economic Theory of Criminal Behavior that “potential criminals are economically rational and respond significantly to the deterring incentives by the criminal justice system. They compare the gain from committing a crime with the expected cost, including the risk of punishment and the possibility of social stigma.” Becker’s statement implies that the people resorting to crime for their economic sustenance are aware of their actions. Their desire to supply their needs is just too strong compared to the suffering they might endure once caught.

Unemployment is very common. People in this area have little or noformal education at all, and so mostly are unskilled.

Families are broken up. The mother has to go out to work and leaves the children behind. With this kind of life, what will happen to the future of these growing children, who are mostly out of school? It is not surprising that they are often the victims of circumstances. They begin to commit relatively minor offenses such as small scale thefts

and illegal gambling. Later on, because of poverty and deprivation.

Look around in your surroundings.

Crime is a complex problem. It can be classified in various ways. There are crimes against people like rape, kidnapping, murder and assault; also crimes against property include theft, arson, forgery, embezzlement and vandalism; and the crimes against public order or morality include drunkenness, gambling and prostitution.

Crime has been a rather serious problem, the fact that violent crimes have become much more common these years than in the past. Despite repeated crackdown by law-enforcement authorities, the situation many times has not shown any improvement at all. What is even worse is that studies have found out that the crime rate tends to rise faster when quick changes occur in society.

Also, crime is related to social values.

People were more obsessed with status, wealth and pleasure. This change in value must have been an important factor in the mounting wave of crime. It is necessary to emphasize especially in education the moral values and the traditional virtues of being a good citizen. And most of all, if the unemployment problem of a country can be solved or minimize in future, we all might hope that the crime rate will go down.


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