Why do some communities have much higher crime rates than others? Why is it that people used to feel safe leaving their front doors unlocked but now some people live in gated communities and apartment blocks with ‘poor doors’? Why do people riot?
respected and loss of face
At Closing The Gap we want to draw attention to these issues and start a conversation about what can be done because we’re all in this together.
Let’s start by looking at our young people who become involved in crime For teenage boys in particular there is a period of a few years where they are more likely to be involved in risky behaviour, including crime. Factors which will affect that include role models, mentoring, feeling like they have a role in society, strong family bonds. In a society where communities have broken down and gangs of teenage boys roam the streets with no money, no work and no prospects they are much more likely to drift into crime. If their parents are working two jobs each just to put food on the table they are likely to have less time to volunteer at sports clubs for example and engage in the community with their children.
Andrew Becroft , Principal Youth Court Judge, is an expert in this field. When he named ten factors in youth offending income inequality was one of them, together with lack of family support and community connectedness.He says the answers lie in the community, not by locking young offenders in institutions.
Critical of custodial sentences with little other support, Judge Becroft says that we need to be more focused and more committed as a country and as a community to try and identify early and positively work with those high-risk groups in a way that’s not stigmatising, or labelling or patronising.
What about violence – why do some countries have much higher homicide rates than others? Wilson and Pickett found a clear correlation between homicide rates and inequality. The link has been shown in as many as 40 studies , and the differences are large : there are five- fold differences in murder rates between different countries related to inequality. The most important reason why violence is more common in more unequal societies is that it is often triggered by people feeling looked down, dis
When do people feel looked down, disrespected and suffer a loss of face? Perhaps when they see the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer? Having to use a ‘poor door’?
What are the consequences of this link between inequality and crime and why should it matter to the the rich as well as the poor ? Peter Lyons recently referred to an ‘economic apartheid’ in New Zealand and wrote this:
Last week a car pulled up in our street in the middle of the day. Three individuals got out. They walked calmly up the path to the porch. They kicked in the front door of the house over the road in plain view of several neighbours. One neighbour rang the police on his cellphone while the three culprits walked out with a widescreen TV, electronics and jewellery. They sped away. This may be an isolated incident or it may be evidence of the creeping polarisation of our society. The obvious solution is a society of economic apartheid where those with wealth hide behind security fences and alarms and gated communities while those left behind prey on each other or the affluent who fail to protect themselves.
What can we do about this? You might find this a bit extreme but it make a valid point.
Other action you can take:
Share this on your social media
Go to our website and sign on if you haven’t already to receive our newsletters and find out more
Like our Facebook page
Follow us on twitter
Join your local Closing The Gap facebook group
Start some conversations about this issue, in person , or online. We need to raise awareness. There are more ideas on our website.