In the current essay we will discuss the fact that poverty causes crime. Poverty is a characteristic of the economic situation of the individual or social group in which they cannot satisfy a certain range of the minimum requirements needed for life saving ability. Poverty is a relative concept and depends on the overall standard of living in the society.
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According to experts, not getting decent wages for their work, young people gradually lose the desire to marry and to have children – they are full of fear for tomorrow, not sure that tomorrow they will not be fired because of another financial crisis. In addition, low wages and lack of jobs, experts say, are pushing young people to commit crimes in order to get rich quickly. It is, therefore, among criminals, increases the number of adolescents, aged 18 to 25 years.
Poverty is a consequence of diverse and interrelated reasons, which combine into the following groups:
– economic (unemployment, low wages, low productivity, lack of competitiveness of the industry);
– socio-medical (disability, old age, high levels of morbidity);
– Demographic (parent families, a large number of dependents in the family);
– socio-economic (low level of social guarantees);
– educational qualifications (a low level of education, lack of training);
– political (military conflict, forced migration);
– regional-geographic (uneven development of regions).
As well, current crisis makes people react and do something, even if it is illegal, they start committing a crime. Poverty causes many crimes, as if a person was not poor and had faith in himself, he would not face the thought that he should search another ways to get money. According to Crime Causes Poverty (2010), being poor, which could be caused by different reasons, makes a person unhappy, incapable to earn enough money, to buy anything he wants or at least something necessary.
Poverty determines a certain stereotype in a person’s thoughts, and he does not see any constructive solving of the problem, as he wants to choose the easiest way of getting money, even harming other people. According to Borade (2007), poverty has a huge psychological influence on people, who become depressed, desperate and then they decide to commit a crime, as they have not found anything that can legally get them out of such situation.
Too many problems that a person faces in the modern society makes him get angrier on the whole situation and forces to look for the new ways of solving his problem. The desperate economical situation in the country and consequently the lack of the work places, especially for young people, creates the thoughts and actions of crime. No guarantees from the government and no proper help to people who are poor leads to the chaos and misunderstanding, where the only way out they find, is to commit a crime. Poverty as a social phenomenon in a historical sense is of lasting value. The extent and depth of “immersion” of the people in the country reflects two important aspects of society – the level of development of productive forces and the corresponding character of their operation principle of social justice.
Most often, poverty is treated as financial insecurity of people, when income of a person or family does not allow maintaining socially necessary consumption for life, interfering with normal living and personal development. According to Mac Donald 2010), poverty serves as guidelines for shaping social policy. This phenomenon is assessed by using indicators of absolute and relative poverty, its depth and severity, as well as by the subjective perception of their individual well-being and quality of life. To determine the effect of poverty on crime, there may be also another way: by studying the living conditions of the poor and convicted before they commit crimes.
As a consequence of the fact that poverty causes crime, criminally distorted psychology of society, values and personality, as a direct cause of crime are expressed by more than just greed, aggression, irresponsibility and neglect of criminal law prohibitions, as stated by Charen (2007). It has several forms: greed, the cause component of the Organized Crime and Entrepreneurship, parasitism, irresponsibility, situational robbery, when crimes are committed to meet the immediate material needs, poverty is an incentive for the physical survival. At a gain now there is 80% of the totality of the causes of crime at this time. The main source of crime in any society is the aggravation of his social contradictions. It is also defined as meaningful and with the quantifiable features of the formation, which are within the specific time parameters. It is known, that the technologically advanced capitalist countries do not have the same level of crimes.
As a fact, crimes begin from the childhood. As a rule, if a child was born in a poor family, there are more chances that he will start committing crimes. All over the world there is propaganda of a luxurious way of life, of successful people, of expensive mansions, cars, of beautiful journeys, etc. When children and adolescents see that and understand that parents will not provide them with all these things, they start looking for the opportunity to get money fast in order to buy at least something. And consequently, they decide to commit a crime. According to Barr (1992), the crimes committed by adolescents are considered the cruelest. The majority of cases of all crimes show that a driving force of the crimes is the money. The values of the society are built the way that those people with the problems in their minds decide to bring closer all these luxurious things.
One of the main aspects that can prevent poverty is education. If children are educated properly, then they will perceive the reality as it is and they will try to succeed in legal ways by studying and then getting a job. Sometimes, crimes are the symptom of the culture, and education can cure the cultural poverty, and only then the financial poverty will be cured itself as a consequence.
As a fact, not only poor people commit crimes, as there are also rich people who have no boundaries in their actions and also power and they also commit crimes to get more money and power, according to McGrath (2009). Considering the statistics, the total number of the seven index crimes is reported to police per 100,000 inhabitants in the United States. The research states that if to reduce poverty, crime will be reduced, although with the crisis that has begun in 2008, there have been registered less crimes, although there are more poor people because of the crisis. As an example of it, in the first decade of the XXI century crime in the United States has tended to decline. By the end of the decade, crime rates, according to many indicators, have fallen dramatically, despite the economic crisis of 2008-2010. In some cities such as New York, the crime rate has dropped to the record lows. With the onset of recession in the U.S., many media outlets have expressed fears that the crisis (for example, increased unemployment and reduced real incomes of people) will lead to a rapid increase in crime. FBI report shows that these fears have not yet been met.
Published in the 2008, the study of the Heritage Foundation has shown that the relationship between economic perturbations and the crime exists, but it is not so clear. Thus, in the United States there is a nation-wide crime statistics since 1934. During all this time only for 16 years the crime rate has declined. The crime rate has steadily increased from 1955 to 1972, although this time the U.S. economy has experienced a rapid period of development, and then a recession occurred only in mid-1960. In turn, during the Great Depression – statistics was only for the period from 1934 to 1938 – criminals have shown less activity.
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) issued a preliminary report on crime rates in the U.S. in 2009. This statistics is based on data provided by about 17 thousand law enforcement agencies of different jurisdictions. The main conclusions of the report, compared to 2008, is that the number of property crimes in the U.S. decreased by 6.1%, violent crimes – by 4,4%. According to the report, this year the number of murders in the U.S. fell by 10%, robberies – on 6,5%, rape – by 3,3%. Among property crimes, the most significantly decreased the number of thefts of cars (by 18.7%), theft (by 5.3%) and burglary (2.5%). The greatest reductions in crime were noted in cities with populations exceeding one million. In addition to FBI statistics, the crime rate measures the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics by the Census Bureau (study called National Crime Victimization Survey). Since 1973, there have been annually polled 70-80 thousand of households (family or group of people living together and having a total budget), to identify about how many actually committed crimes Americans have not informed the police. The last time similar research was conducted in 2008. It has shown that the victims of the criminals Americans do not always turn to law enforcement agencies: becoming the victims of violent crimes, they shall notify the police in 51.2% of the property – in 39.6% of cases. Another important indicator for gauging the level of crime in the U.S. is a traditional study conducted the service Gallup “Rating the perception of crime.” Every year Gallup asks Americans to estimate whether increased or decreased the number of crimes in their area and across the country.
In the recent years, such survey was conducted in September 2009. Then 74% of Americans said that compared with last year the crime rate in the U.S. grew, and 15% reported that the situation has improved. The rise in crime in their area was 51%, decrease – 29%. As a fact, 12% of respondents said that the situation with crime in their place of residence was “very serious”; the crime rate across the United States similarly estimated 55% of respondents. It is curious that in the last decade, both of these indicators remain fairly stable, fluctuating slightly.
As a rule, those countries where there is no proper economic regulations, there are more chances that people will react negatively and commit more crimes, as the consequence of unhappy life and no perspective in such countries. Although there is no proof of the direct connection of the fact that poverty is the main motive to commit a crime, as there are many factors present in the minds of people who in different situations can act differently. According to Francis (2008), it is not quite explicable, that the fact that while there is a depression and economical crisis all over the world, people do not commit more crimes, as the statistics shows that people do not intend to commit more crimes. The consequences and the logic of this fact are not fully understandable. In the modern world everything changes so quickly that people get accustomed to the situation, they learn the rules of the “game” and probably they try to find a better way to earn money and succeed than to commit a crime. There can be also hope that the more people get more education, the more they get the proper knowledge, the better they understand life and the rules to survive. The more people know, the better they understand the situations, the values, the perspective, the more ideas they have, the more creative they are and the more they feel capable to find a job and to succeed in life.
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In poor countries such as Brazil and the countries of the former Soviet Union, there are millions of poor people who do not have a way out because of the lack of any perspectives to find a job, as the level of corruption is extremely high. According to Langeneckert (2010), in such countries is especially visible the difference and the gap between the extremely rich and very poor people. There are almost no middle class people who have a job, a house and other benefits. According to Crime (2009), there are almost no chances to combat it, as poor and desperate people in these countries do not see any other opportunity except committing a crime. The obvious injustice and no social guarantees make people feel as losers, who see the luxurious life and who cannot touch it. As a fact, there is a lot of envy because of such a big gap and so much poverty.
Each country has its problems and level of poverty, but there is one main point- the lack of money. According to Brill (1993), if people had money at least for the basic needs, there would be no such level of poverty. And as Aristotle said: “Poverty – is a source of disturbance and crime”, which means that little problem becomes a huge problem if there is nothing useful done to prevent it. That is why the right policy of the country will be able to eliminate poverty and along with that there will be no crime in the future.
What factors specifically lead to poverty in the countries? This is the high level of unemployment, a significant number of jobs that do not provide a living wage, as well as reducing the number of social service costs. It can be emphasized that poverty reduction should not be a charity event. It must go against strong social inequalities. The only way to do this is to foster a society of equal opportunities. If we deal only with short-term problems in order to achieve short term objectives rather than to focus on strategic issues of economic and social development, we may miss the last chance to make the country the basis for a viable, long-term development based on economic and social modernization.
So, the agenda should include the following vital issues:
– Reducing inequality and providing our citizens with the opportunity to realize their constitutional rights;
– Restoration of a common economic space;
– Infrastructure development through the joint efforts of government and the private sector (roads, railways, ports, airports, bridges, power lines, electricity, etc.);
– The solution of demographic problems of the countries;
– The rise of living standards (including environmental problems);
– Eliminating unevenness in the level of regional development;
– Harmonization of interethnic relations in the country and the creation of normal living conditions for the communities;
– National security and territorial integrity;
– The safety of citizens;
As a fact, it is easier to prevent poverty than to deal with its consequences. The fact that people commit crimes when they are poor does not justify them. But the government has to take measures to prevent the poverty, there should be created more opportunities for people to work, as keeping people busy can prevent crimes and even the thoughts of it. Proper economical policy, positive changes in the social sphere, economical issues and employment can guarantee the higher level of education and understanding the principles, which will help to avoid the crime in the future. There should be also organized the certain campaigns aimed at the reduction of poverty, as it in some cases causes crime.
Anyway, if the importance of money was not so crucial these days, probably, the majority of people would not commit crimes. As it is very difficult to be different from everyone in the society that values the materialistic ideas, the goods and products, it becomes a real challenge not to have goals to buy the things or to own something. It happens because the society judges those who are different, who have different vision, goals, principles and ideas. That is why people are almost forced to do everything “the right way” to be as everyone else is, to work and to succeed. And if there are no possibilities for that in the country, people start looking for other wrong ways to reach it anyway. They start looking for the easiest, quickest and lowest ways to reach their goal, and that is why robberies, different violent crimes and thefts occur. Some people, after committing them, feel “innocent”, as they think that if the government did not give certain things and possibilities to them, then they have the right to take things or money from the richer people. Deceiving themselves, people live in their own world that is so narrow, that allows them to commit a crime and to presume that no one will ever know.
As a fact, it is sad that a reality is that money takes a very important place in people’s lives. Everything people do to earn money sometimes in not enough, that is why arise different problems which lead to the thoughts to commit a crime as that last opportunity. Everyone wants to live worthily and this desire determines unexpected behavior. Often people want to prove something to their friends, family, loved ones, but they do not manage to achieve it in a legal way, choosing instead the lowest possible way to commit a crime, thinking that from that moment on everything would change for the better.
It is obvious that money rules the world, which is why almost every crime is based on the desire to get more money at any cost. Those who commit crime do not usually think about consequences and they pay for everything they have done later. Sometimes people just lack the patience and they want to have everything too soon without any considerable long time efforts. Consequently, this practice does not work and people are forced to pay for everything they have done. According to McIlheran (2010), psychological help and support in difficult situations can help and benefit people to overcome difficulties, challenging times and other problems. Being open to discussions, to new ideas, to new opportunities and options, people can stop thinking about committing a crime because they are poor. The capacity to believe in yourself, in the future possibilities and in the brighter future lacks in the minds of the people. It is surprising that people commit crimes, as it is obvious that sooner or later they will pay for what they have done and it is important to take control of the life. According to Short (1997), the mistake is that people sometimes consider themselves cleverer than the others are, and think they are capable of changing their life easily by harming someone else. This method, fortunately, does not work. Being realistic and optimistic at the same time can save situation and turn life to the better.
All in all, only the right policies of the countries can solve this problem and make people understand and see other right ways to earn money and to get out of poverty. People are instruments in the hands of the government and they play by its rules. If there will be more opportunities and proper social conditions for people to live and work, the crimes that are caused by poverty will not take place anymore. A lot depends on the country that people live in, and on the fact how they see their future, which possibilities and advantages they can find and want to implement in their lives. Anyway, everything depends on a choice a person makes, wherever he lives and whatever he has.
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