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Violent Crime

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Criminology classes and sociology classes often study violent crime and require research papers on violent crime in society today. Paper Masters can help you write a research paper on violent crime, looking at the many aspects of this sociological phenomena.

The seeming randomness of violent crime, coupled with the prospect of being beaten, killed, or robbed, can make some people feel as if they are not safe anywhere. This attitude seems to pervade America today. We are outraged when massacres such as the ones at Columbine and Virginia Tech occur. We buy alarm systems for our homes while the wealthiest live in gated communities. More and more video surveillance cameras show up at busy intersections, shopping malls, and other gathering places.

Is Violent Crime on the Rise?

Has anyone stopped to wonder if violent crime is really increasing or not? If society is having these pronounced reactions to violent crime, it stands to reason that criminal acts are probably on the upswing. A look at Bureau of Justice Statistics (1996 and 2005) suggests differently, though.

  • The rate of personal violent crimes decreased in that period from 43.5 per 1000 to 21.2 per 1000.
  • Rapes decreased from 1.4/1000 to 0.8/1000 and robberies dropped from 5.6/1000 to 2.6/1000.
  • In addition, some research papers report that statistics on teenage violent crime show a similar decrease.
  • Teens are using drugs and violence markedly less than previous generations.
  • Drug abuse dropped from 19% to 16% in ten years
  • The rate of school violence fell from 48 violent crimes per 1000 students to 22 per 1000 between 1992 and 2004.

So it seems that violent crime is actually decreasing by impressive leaps and bounds in America. Yet, the public's fixation with violent crime and punishment seems to grow every year. Paper Master's attribute this to the public's increasing fascination with violence. The authors contend that the media is the best place to find evidence of this national focus. Besides the huge number of violent crime dramas such as CSI, a television viewer can also find a number of shows such as COPS, where cameramen and producers ride around with police in hopes of seeing something interesting. The courtship between media and violent violent crime is also felt when our national attention becomes drawn to cases such as those involving Michael Jackson, O.J. Simpson, and the Duke lacrosse players. While we are often simultaneously enthralled and disgusted by the horrors of some of these cases, it seems inarguable that violent crime in the media is meant to be not only newsworthy and informative, but also entertaining. By thrusting shows centered on violence into the forefront of American entertainment, those industries may be contributing to a mass hysteria about the likelihood of personally experiencing a violent crime themselves.

Research notes that, for a violent crime to be considered worthy of mass media attention, it has to be violent and sensational. It also helps if the case is long-lived, so that people become accustomed to hearing about it as part of their daily lives and gain a mastery of the details of the case. Images and words about these violent crimes are repeated on major networks several times through the day, as if they were a subliminal message saying, "Remember to be afraid - Remember to be afraid."

Fear seems to be beneficial to some groups. Law enforcement groups seeking more gun control or our own Congress searching for reasons to restrict our civil rights are two obvious beneficiaries of a public paralyzed by fear. Those in the media who keep the hype alive enjoy more readership and more viewership.

Why do these inconsistencies between our perception of violent crime and the actual violent crime rates continue to occur? Race and gender are two important factors in maintaining the inconsistency. One research paper claims that we appear to have a national need to view the victim as good and virtuous and the offender as wicked and eternally guilty. Sadly, much of mainstream America categorizes black America as the segment most likely to carry out a violent violent crime. Other images are also discouraging. Perry and Sutton (2006) note that media representations of inter-racial couples on television and in movies are often doomed from the onset, with no apparent good reason except for their racial differences. The authors find this grounded in our apparent need to believe strongly in substantial racial differences. The perceived threat from the black population may stem from sexual fears. White males fear the mythical sexual potency of the black male, perhaps worrying about losing their mates to a partner with more sexual prowess. Black females are feared because of their strength and exotic nature. In the end, the researchers suggest, the feelings of the white population about blacks may be fueling our hysteria about a perceived increase in violent crimes, implicitly perpetrated by blacks.

Violence in Crime

Cases such as the alleged rape at the Duke lacrosse players' home are especially unsettling to Americans. Here, it seems, the tables were turned: instead of a black person committing a violent crime against a white person, three white college students stood accused of raping a black female. In a case that held our national attention and tested once again the bonds between blacks and whites, the plaintiff's case was slowly and methodically dismantled, until it was discovered that the prosecuting attorney used the case as means to secure more black voters. In the end, Roy Cooper, North Carolina Attorney General, declared the defendants innocent. Across North Carolina and the rest of our nation, the public wondered about racial motives. What role did race play in the allegations? What role did race play in the resolution?

At the end of O.J. Simpson's criminal trial, many white citizens were offended, and many black citizens were overjoyed, at the verdict of "innocent." In the Duke case, many black citizens were offended by the outcome, and many white citizens felt joy. Race will continue to be an exacerbating factor in violent crime and our perception of violent crime.

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