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Explore the relationship between poverty and crime.

Extracts from this essay...

Introduction

INTRODUCTION This report aims to explore the relationship between poverty and crime. This is by no means a succinct topic and for a comprehensive overview to be sought, the report needs to be broken down into several areas. Such areas include a definition into what exactly is meant by poverty, the causes and also how each primary cause of poverty belies a link to crime.......................... WHAT IS POVERTY? Poverty can be measured in a variety of ways: unemployment, high rate of divorce, single-parent households, dilapidated housing, poor school or concentration of minorities, are but a few examples. Therefore in an effort to determine the relationship between poverty and crime all these factors must be considered. Firstly it must be pointed out that in terms of social inequality poverty is studied in terms of relative and not absolute deprivation. Relative depravation is best understood through the words of Karl Marx as he once said : "A house can be large or small; as long as the surrounding houses are equally small it satisfies all social demands. But if a palace resides beside the little house, the little house shrinks into a hut." It is apparent from this that relative depravation or poverty is present in modern societies such as those in the USA and UK. WHAT CAUSES POVERTY? It is an undisputable fact that Britain under the Conservative governments from 1979 to 1997, largely pushed the issue of poverty in a political wilderness.

Middle

Much elaborated, these theories provide the taproots for most modern theories of crime and deviance. Their relevance to the rise and rise of crime rates in the post-war period now seems indisputable, since they alone can address the paradox that crime has risen steeply with growing prosperity and reduced but persistent inequality. When greater affluence is combined with growing inequality and the rise of what has been called a winner/loser culture, crime has climbed even more steeply (James 1995). In England and Wales, official crime rates doubled over the 1979-92 period, most dramatically by 40 per cent between 1989 and 1992, though victim surveys have shown half that rate of increase. Differences of age and gender are surprisingly constant, over time and between different societies. Most crime (apart from the largely hidden icebergs of occupational crimes and domestic violence) is youth crime, committed by a minority of young men and boys under the age of 25, who are disproportionately drawn from the urban, under-educated, under-employed working class. Youth and crime are so strongly linked because adolescence is a limbo between childhood dependence and adult maturity: energies are high, outlets are few, needs are keenly felt and authority is to be tested and resisted. The gender divide persists because girls are much more carefully watched by parents, deflected from risk-raking (Hagan, Simpson and Gillis 1979) and, though here things may be changing fast, brought up to anticipate reliance on a male partner in raising a family.

Conclusion

There is a clear link between lone parent families and poverty and therefore crime. Evidence from the National Centre for Policy Analysis in the USA shows the relationship between lone parent families, poverty and crime. Children of single parents are more likely to have psychological problems, fail to achieve success educationally and commit crime especially if they come from poor backgrounds. * The poverty rate for female-headed households with children is 44.5 % compared to 7.8 % for married couples with children. * The rate of arrest for juvenile violent crimes has more than tripled over the past three decades, echoing the upsurge in single-parent households. * High out-of-wedlock birth rates correlate with high crime rates among young men. * Studies show that most gang members come from single-parent homes. * Of juvenile delinquents in reform institutions, 70 % had lived in single-parent homes or with someone other than their natural parents. * One study found that 60 % of rapists come from single-parent backgrounds. * Another study found that 75 % of adolescent murderers come from single-parent homes. Many criminologists support the evidence which suggests lone parent families are poor and therefore more likely to commit crime. The 'anomie of fatherlessness' is recognised by sociologists Dennis and Erdos (1993) and they reject the opinion that "if the rate of unemployment were to fall to the level 1960s, the crime rate would fall to the level of the 1960s". They believe that the breakdown of the family and social conditions have changed too dramatically to mean that full employment would eradicate poverty and crime in the process.

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