Violence In American Society Essay, Research Paper
As shots ring out at schools across America, one cannot help but assume that America is more violent now than it has been in the past. Has America really become more violent? Violence has always been present in the world, and in America, but it seems that in the twentieth century American violence has taken on a new form. Crime has become an epidemic that affects every age group, every ethnic group, and every person in a different way, but in each case, the effect is detrimental. In many ways, the violence present in American culture today has desensitized society. In movies, on television, and even on the nightly news Americans can watch brutality and gore whenever they want. It is therefore no surprise that crime has become more commonplace in America s society. Does this mean that because American society is accustomed to crime that violence is on the rise? Throughout America s history, there have been times of increasing violence as well as times when violence seems to be on the decline. American society is beginning to enter another period where violent crimes are decreasing according to the latest U.S. Department of Justice statistics . It is evident that social and/or economic conditions can cause these periods of semi-peace. America may seem to be becoming more violent as we move towards the twenty-first century, but in actuality, violence is decreasing across the country due to incredible social and economic conditions.
Just by taking a brief look one can see that certain times in America s history were more violent then others. America has been going through a sort of violence cycle where violence increases due to certain political, social or economic circumstances and then decreases due to other circumstances. America is currently going through one of the decreases in this historical cycle. From 1984-1993, violent crimes were on the increase. Murder and other violent crimes were being committed more often then ever before. In 1994, the violent crime rates in America began to plummet. From 1994 to 1996 crime rates in cities like Boston, San Diego, Houston and Kansas City dropped significantly. Nation wide the violent crime rates have also decreased over the last five or so years. In almost every major city, homicides and other violent crimes are occurring less often. While violence is still present in today s society, the number of violent acts in America is down and the country is entering a period of relative tranquility.
America has also gone through periods where violence is widespread and society is uneasy. During the 1960 s, the civil rights movement led to a huge boom in racially motivated crimes. The 1980 s saw a huge increase in violent crimes in urban areas as the availability of illegal drugs caused serious problems. During these two violence cycles, people waited and hoped that solutions could be found for the problems that were spurring the violence.
Increases in violent crimes usually coincide with changes in the social or economic structure of our country. In the 60 s, the civil rights movement caused an increase in racial tensions. The struggle between blacks and whites led to a huge number of racially motivated crimes during that era. In the 80 s, urban violence was sparked by a sudden increase in the use of crack cocaine. Crack was cheap which made it a very dangerous drug. The drug quickly became a huge problem in nearly every major city in America and was the cause of many violent crimes for a decade to come. These sudden increases in the violence cycle are usually unpredictable, and therefore impossible to avoid. Drastic unforeseen increases in violence like the one that occurred in the 1980 s usually last for a long time. Much damage occurs before the country comes to terms with the problem it could not foresee.
Social and economic conditions can also cause decreases in violence. With America s economy booming, unemployment at a very low rate, and increasingly efficient police forces it is no wonder that crime is decreasing in America. there s a simple logic to the idea that a booming economy is driving crime rates lower. When the people are happy they are less likely to commit violent crimes. Now, with more people employed then there have been in nearly a century, people are happy with the country. Obviously not everyone is content with America and a low unemployment rate will not completely eradicate violence in society, but relative to times of struggle for America, crime is under control.
As good as the current crime rate is, and though the economy is continuing to grow and prosper, some experts think American society is entering a new era of violent crimes. Many feel that this current drop in crime rates will cause a false sense of security. This could lead to more problems creeping up unnoticed and causing an increase in violent crimes. Others say that this might not be a real decrease, but rather a lull in an overall increase of violent crime. Sure crime is down, says UCLA Professor Emeritus James Q. Wilson, but not compared to 35 years ago. Some experts believe that this drop in crime will only last a short time and that America should not really feel secure until violent crime rates are as low as they were decades ago.
Some people think that this present decrease in the crime rate is a real accomplishment but that changing social factors will give rise to a new huge crime wave. A large number of experts are theorizing that the ever-growing teenage population in America will be the downfall of American success against crime. Experts theorize that the increasing number of violent crimes involving teenagers, combined with a greater number of teens will cause an explosion of violence that will send the United States into another period of unrest.
Still others feel that to say that teenagers will be the cause of the next violence wave is premature and unfounded. Several studies have concluded that teen violence has decreased steadily over the last three years, and many believe that the growth in teenage population will be gradual enough not to affect the overall crime rate. the drop in teen violence for the past three years proves that it s hard to predict what teenagers will do. The fact of the matter, however, is that no one can really predict what course violence will take next. People have their theories but what will happen next is impossible to predict with any accuracy.
With crime on the decline, one has to wonder why it seems that violence is everywhere in today s society. It seems that one cannot turn on the television or go to the movies without seeing violence in entertainment. Aggressive music and R-rated movies are everywhere in today s society and in some ways this gives Americans a false sense that America is actually more violent. More so than that, however, is that news coverage of horrible events, such as the shootings in Littleton have sensationalized violence, distorted facts and made a horrible atrocity seem even worse than it was. The American public is constantly being bombarded with story after story of unexplainable violence. The coverage is continuing for longer and longer times because of new technologies and in a small way to satisfy American s insatiable lust for violence. In many cases, news coverage is going beyond the call of duty, but not for the better. They make isolated events seem like more than they are for the sake of entertainment.
America is also in disbelief at the new face of crime. Criminals are becoming younger and younger. High school and even middle school students have been committing major violent crimes at an alarming rate over the past year or so. it used to be unusual for kids to get back at the world with live ammunition. People have never seen this type of violence from children before and many are looking to blame it on anything they can to avoid taking part of the blame on themselves. As America learned of the crime of 13-year-old Mitchell Johnson and 11-year-old Andrew Golden in Jonesboro Arkansas , a feeling of fear took the country by storm as Americans began to realize that no one is immune to violence, not even our country s youth.
Crime in America has also become more hate motivated. A recent slew of hate crimes has reacquainted Americans with just how deeply rooted hate is in our countries. More and more crimes are being committed simply because of race, religion or choice of lifestyles. These crimes have shown America wherever there is hate there will be violence.
America has been a place where people have come to free themselves from oppression and strife but not even America can protect everyone from violence. It has become one of the few things that have followed America throughout its history. The amount of violent acts and the reasons they have occurred have varied over the years, but violence has and always will be present in American culture. The number of violent crimes has very much been dependent on the condition of society. Good times in the country usually translate to low crime rates and vice-versa. America is now going through a very prosperous and successful time and therefore crime rates are the lowest they have been for years. Despite this success in recent years, many predict that we are on the path to a huge crime wave. An increase in teenage violent crime and hate-motivated killings is causing Americans to look to the future with little hope and careful vigilance. Violence is an incurable epidemic that will forever be a thorn in America s side, but while Americans cannot eliminate violence in society, its effects can be minimized. Good planning on the part of the government and law enforcement will be key in continuing to reduce America s violent crime rate. America is gradually becoming less violent, but that does not mean, by any means, that violence is not a problem. As America moves into the new millennium, they should feel a sense of accomplishment for reducing the crime rate, but they can not afford to let down their guard and give way to violence s reign of terror.