The increased crime rate in the western world has been a source of concern to governments, criminologists and socially aware citizens for decades. Using the United States as an example, the number of felonies and non-violent crimes has continued to spiral out of control and this has led to high incarceration numbers in the US. The process of rehabilitation using jail time has also been ineffective as a high number of individuals who have served time in prison end up being re-incarcerated for one violation or the other while on parole.
Therefore, these failures have led to society looking for alternatives to first prevent crime before the issue of rehabilitation comes up. Social science has played a huge role in studying crime, incarcerations and its effects in order to develop prevention tactics that will prove useful in reducing incarceration rates in the long run. This article will provide some facts on social science and crime prevention which you can use for literature reviews if writing on the topic of today. Note that this is the first part of a series of articles covering the subject matter of crime prevention. Therefore, you should read up on the 20 social science essay topics on crime prevention if looking for essay ideas to write on.
10 facts on social science and crime prevention:
- Stable family structure reduces delinquency. A Pittsburgh study on teenage delinquency showed that lack of a stable family structure was more likely to create conditions that lead to delinquent behavior than peer pressure or hanging out with delinquent peers. The study which covered children from the ages of 7 to 25 years, concluded that poor parental supervision and low parental involvement in a child’s development were important factors to be curtailed in order to prevent child delinquency and crime.
- Risk focused prevention techniques are more successful than incarceration. The prevention of crime takes the participation of an entire society to be successful. Therefore, identifying the key risk factors that encourages offending and implementing prevention methods to counter these factors are the best techniques to prevent crime. This means noting issues that lead to impulsiveness and criminal behavior such as drug use, alcohol abuse, failures etc. and reducing each risk factor is a better crime prevention technique than incarceration.
- Parent education programs reduce abuse and crime rates. Parent education programs targeted at first time parent, poor and uneducated parents and single parents has had direct impact in reducing developmental problems in infancy. A study of the Nurse-Family Partnership program in New York which provided postnatal home visits to at risk mothers, showed that postnatal visits drastically reduced child physical abuse and neglect during a child’s developmental years. The study recorded approximately 4% of physical child abuse among mothers in the postnatal program against 19% of cases among women who weren’t a part of any postnatal program.
- Education plays an important role in crime prevention. The importance of educating children at a young age cannot be understated if preventing future crimes is to be reduced or eliminated. A sample study conducted by the Perry Project in 1980 had chosen 123 children born by at risk parents and provided the kids with preschool education and scheduled bi-weekly visits. The corresponding follow-ups in 1995 and 2005 showed that students in the sample group recorded high literacy rates, graduated high school and a high percentage then received college degrees and were employed when compared to others not in the group.
- Initiating civil laws prevents crime. Civil laws are guidelines relating to non-criminal activities. These laws focus on day to day human interaction, property management and society. A study conducted in Oakland, California showed that the integration of civil activities such as inspection of drug nuisance properties, use of no trespassing signs and initiating court proceedings against erring landlords. These laws drastically reduce the sale of drugs and other criminal activities in the sample area and were more successful than field interrogations, surveillance and arrests.
- Improved street lighting deters criminal activities. A social science experiment conducted on the level of crimes committed in lighted and dark areas showed that the dark enables crime. The 2009 study which was conducted on 13 streets at Stoke-on-Trent UK, showed that improved lighting reduced crime in notorious communities by approximately 21%. A cost-benefit analysis also went on to note that the financial savings and security from the reduced crime status far exceeded the amount spent to light up the area.
- Neighbourhood watches and civil groups prevent crimes. This local citizen surveillance practice is common to communities in the United States and studies have shown that they are highly effective. These studies show that the setting up of watches, vetting new tenant and creating an inclusive society for residents have drastically reduced crime rate by 16% when compared to previous crime statistics without a neighbourhood watch.
- Understanding and managing mental health problems prevent crimes. The understanding of roles mental health plays in human impulsiveness, empathy levels and ability to function in society is important to crime prevention. A social study in the United Kingdom which tracked the effectiveness of the Child and Adolescent Mental Health (CAMHS) group showed that tackling child neglect, abuse and mental health issues drastically reduces the possibility of an adolescent pursuing a life of crime.
- Tackling unemployment is an effective crime prevention tool. Statistics show that the level of unemployment and underemployment in a society is directly proportional to the level of crime going on it. Therefore, an increased GDP, employment opportunities and a reduced poverty rate drastically prevents crime. Data from the Bureau of Labour Statistics and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have shown that the more viable options individuals have the less likely they are to be involved in criminal activities.
- Intervention programs are more effective in preventing crime than incarceration. Intervention programs consist of using education, employment and healthcare to combat criminal activities in adolescent and adults. A study in 2009, which made use of intervention techniques, showed that they are far more effective and less financially costly than the use of incarceration as a deterrent. The success of this study led to the abandonment of plans to build new prison by the Washington state legislature in favor of funding intervention programs.
Here we come to the end of the 10 interesting facts we have on social science and crime prevention. A follow-up to help you write accurate article reviews on crime prevention will also be provided for further reading. These articles will provide topics you can choose from and directions on how to write a perfect article review on social science and crime prevention.
- Grant, B. (2009). Social crime prevention in the developing world.
- Fennelly, J. (2004). Handbook of loss prevention and crime prevention 100,210.
Sloboda, Z. (2010). Defining prevention science 23-34.
- Von Hirsch, A. (2000). Ethical and social perspectives on situational crime prevention.
- Wilson, J. & Howell, C. (1993). A Comprehensive Strategy for Serious, Violent, and Chronic Juvenile Offenders. Washington, D.C.: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
- Welsh, C., Christopher, J., & David, L. (2010). When Early Crime Prevention goes to Scale: A New Look at the Evidence. Prevention Science, 11, 115-125.
- Sherman, L. (1998). Preventing Crime: What Works, What Doesn’t, What’s Promising.