It’s no secret that crime is on the rise in the United States. We’ve closely followed domestic crime statistics on this blog since its inception, and as violent crime has risen over the past year, we’ve noted it and promoted prevention techniques to help keep your family and community safe. Crime isn’t just up in the United States, though; according to a recent article in Foreign Policy by Moisés Naím, “[c]rime has increased steadily for all the countries the United Nations measures.” The global nature of this problem can help shed light on our crime increase, and it also shows that the need for prevention is greater than ever.
Foreign Policy’s article offers a valuable international perspective on crime and several insights into the global crime problem. Naím immediately puts this problem in perspective with other pressing issues, such as the bird flu epidemic and war. Interestingly, both pale in lethality compared to crime; bird flu has claimed less than 200 lives, and “[p]ost-card perfect Rio de Janeiro, for example, has become more dangerous than the bullet-riddled Gaza Strip.” Additionally, Naím notes that several common explanations of crime — poverty, weak religious institutions — simply do not reliably correlate with crime. Instead, Naím notes that “[r]easearchers can agree upon little beyond the general notion that crime soars in places where there is a combination of a high percentage of young males, ample drugs, and easy access to guns.”
For U.S. citizens, the global statistics help serve as yet another call to action. Crime is going up worldwide, not just in select U.S. cities. It’s not going to get better unless citizens work together to keep themselves, their families, and their communities safe from crime. This means teaching your family to stay safe and mobilizing your community to prevent crime. It also means trying to form partnerships with other communities like your own. If you have a particular crime problem in your community, write a comment on this blog and see if others may be facing the same problems. If your neighborhood has the characteristics of a place with serious crime problems, consider some of our strategies for reducing drug use and availability, reducing violence and guns, and getting young people involved in your community.