Criminality in the United States Essay
in comparison to most other developed countries, the United States usually exhibits a significantly higher violence rate, especially for those crimes that include the use of a firearm (Richardson & Hemenway, 2011). For instance, in 2013, the Canadian police reported about 384,000 violent incidents, compared to approximately 1,163,000 crimes reported by their American counterparts (Boyce, Cotter & Perreault, 2014; Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2013). At the same time, when these numbers are compared to the total population of the two countries, Canada had a higher rate per 100,000 inhabitants. Moreover, there are certain exceptions to this rule, as the British law enforcement agencies reported about 1.3 million violent crimes for the same year (Office for National Statistics, 2015). However, simple statistics like this can also be somewhat misleading for several reasons. For instance, the may vary if violent incidents are underreported. Moreover, all of these countries use different definitions of violent crimes: the United Kingdom includes sexual offenses, including domestic violence, which may explain its higher rates compared to the United States.
Several factors may account for the higher violence rates in the United States. Most obvious and especially salient recently reason is the countrys relatively relaxed gun control legislation. Regardless of ones political stance on the issue and policy, it is hard to argue that the United States has significantly higher firearm-induced injury and death rates (Richardson & Hemenway, 2011). Besides that, the United States society is much less economically homogeneous compared to other countries. There is a significant income gap between its citizens, many of whom are not protected by an extensive social net, including health care. I believe that the lack of government support is one of the best explanations of the US high violence rates. On top of the class divide, the United States is also very culturally, racially, and ethnically diverse which may serve as an additional source of conflict and subsequent violence (Williams & McShane, 2013).
The potential causes outlined above find support in some criminological theories, particularly, within the positivist school of thought that considers the social and individual factors influencing crime. For instance, the strain theory helps explain the impact of socioeconomic differences on individual behavior in the United States. People, faced with systemic discrimination and structural inadequacies of the social sector, choose to channel their frustration into violent acts (Lilly, Cullen & Ball, 2014). The social control theory helps understand how the values, norms, and customs held by the members of the American society may differentiate them from the rest of the developed world, accounting for . Finally, the differential association theory explains how crime may be self-perpetuating: when many criminals populate a given society, other citizens may learn antisocial behaviors from them (Williams & McShane, 2013).
I believe that the fact that some people living in low-crime areas commit crimes while those in from them does not suggest that the environment has no impact on an individuals criminal behavior. Rather, it means that the causes of crime are complex and intricately connected and criminal behavior cannot and should not be attributed to one single factor.