June 25, 2010


It's difficult to understand a problem when there are so many causes. Cancer is one such problem, but then so is crime. This doesn't mean we as a society should give-up or quit trying to understand crime and criminal behavior. Understanding a problem is one of the first steps to doing something about it. I am not a forensic expert, nor am I versed in the study of criminal justice. What I want to offer in this article is my opinion as an ordinary citizen, who is concerned about the perception that more and more of the world is becoming lawless and violent.

I read about violent crime in the newspaper, hear horrific stories on the radio and see disgusting examples of predatory human behavior gone awry on the television every day. It is pathetic how some people treat others. Murders, rapes, school shootings, domestic violence, and the list goes on. If it bleeds, it leads in the media. Sometimes I just scratch my head and ask myself, "Is human nature basically evil or is it something else"? ("Evil" means the absence of "good", just like "darkness" means the absence of "light"). I don't pretend to have the answers, but I do have some insights, based on what some of the experts have said and written.

What are some of the causes of crime?

The absence of God in school? If this were true, it could imply that non-believers are automatically lawless people. That would be ridiculous.

Mental illness? I believe that there are more mentally ill people who are victims of crime than who commit crimes. This is not a fair example of a scapegoat to explain the crime rate.

Cities asking for federal funding? Does the reported crime rate go up when a city needs more money to pay for police protection? How does this happen?

The Great Society's war on poverty? This one doesn't explain white collar crime or corruption in the political arena. Criminal behavior shows no preference to socio-economic status.

The media's role? Has the crime rate, per capita in society, always been the same, but because we live in the age of information, we know more about it than we did 100 years ago?

Social engineers? How important is it to instill fear in our youth so that they can learn to tell the difference between right and wrong? Social engineers say it is abusive to use corporal punishment in school and at home; that it teaches kids to be violent. Other people say sparing the rod spoils the child; some youngsters need to be applauded with just one hand. [Note: In 2010, there are 21 American states that allow some form of corporal punishment in the schools].
Parent's role? Is it fair to blame the parents of kids who act out-of-control? How many kids join gangs because there is no positive validation and acknowledgement at home? I will say that parenting is a skill that does not require a license.

Personality disorders? One example is the anti-social personality. Anti-social types have no empathy for their fellow human-being. Some report an inability to feel any emotions. When asked, "Why did you commit that crime?", a typical response might be, "Because I can". Others might respond, "I'm addicted to chasing the rush it gives me". By itself, medication does not help improve the prognosis. Some recent studies, based on the brain scan results of psychopathic killers, suggest that Omega 3 nutrition started in early childhood, in addition to having specific environmental influences (being taught how to give and receive adaptive love), can lessen the chances of someone insidiously behaving in anti-social ways. It's called nourishing and teaching the frontal lobe cortex. Anything humane that can prevent, lessen or treat cognitive/affective/behavioral pathology has socially redeeming value.

Illicit drugs? Some people call illicit drug use a "victimless crime", and that if society legalized illicit drugs, the jails would have room to house the truly violent criminals. They might be the same people who have never gone face-to-face with a crack head, who would do anything to get another rock.

Prescribed medications? The mainstream medical community needs to be acutely aware of this one. Risks and benefits of all medications need to be explained to people before they are prescribed and dispensed. It is the responsibility of the doctor to monitor the effectiveness, or lack thereof, of any prescribed medication. It is the responsibility of the person receiving the medication to report any side effects to their doctor. The efficacy of any pharmaceutical drug prescribed to people who are susceptible to violence needs to be evaluated and understood. I mean now, not later.

Access to guns or other weapons? Having access to guns is protected by the United States Constitution, and is legal if the person has a permit or license to carry one, and has no history of a mental illness or felony record. Even though guns scare the crap out of me, I would feel safer in a room with someone who is law abiding, sober and packing heat than with someone who isn't a law abiding citizen.

The economy? Can the lack of available gainful employment cause even honest people to act dishonestly? Whose responsibility is it to have marketable skills in order to compete in the job market?

Eating dinner with family? With all the theories about crime, the one that has been consistent through time: The vast majority of people in prison never ate dinner as a family.

One's thought process? At the heart of all crime (bullying, robbing, killing, assaulting, political corruption, other), the perpetrator or assailant has the attitude, "I am better than you".

Written by,
Mark Rogers, LPC.
Licensed Professional Counselor

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