Monday, July 14, 2008

Youth Crime At Record Lows, While Violent Youth Crime Rises...

Found this gem in a CTV website story about Harper's little "speech" at the Calgary Stampede (in it Harper discusses "getting tougher" on youth crime:

"Recent Statistics Canada figures show that while overall youth crime is down significantly in the past 15 years, youth violent crime has surged 30 per cent since 1991."

Interesting. My, what you can do with statistics, if not explained clearly. But, no-one ever looks at the causes behind the figures. Why has youth violent crime "surged"? Youth crime is DOWN, and SIGNIFICANTLY. Youth have more options nowadays, more jobs, etc. So, how do we explain the increase in PERCENTAGE of violent crimes? Let's simplify it for the slightly less mathematical minds out there: Imagine you have 10 apples, slightly bruised, with 3 of them really rotten (or 30%). You take out 5 apples, but not the really rotten ones. Now you have 5 apples left, with 3 of them really rotten - a whopping 3/5 or 60%!!!

Anyone who has studied Sociology and Psychology, finds it pretty easy to explain the seeming hike in violent crime. Violent criminals suffer from more extreme psychoses than non-violent offenders. They are likely to be affected in a more extreme way, and less likely to change their minds when the degree of punishment changes, or economic times change, or their social milieu changes. If you manage to reduce overall crime with effective measures for youth, you are less likely to reduce violent crime, as these criminals tend to be more "hardened" and suffering from more extreme psychoses.

The point about "degree of punishment" is also important in refuting Conservative arguments. Simply bringing in a death penalty, or harsher punishment, won't stop violent crime. As a matter of fact, offenders of that mindset may be MORE LIKELY to commit a violent act, if it means they will stay out of jail, or get out of the harsher punishment. The whole, "I'm never going to the chair, you'll need to take me in dead" argument. People who have psychoses, and cannot realistically negotiate wrong from right probably won't be likely to be curbed from action by another year or two in jail, and a life sentence will probably only make them commit violent acts to stay out.

The Cons will try to argue the same old ignorant argument, even laying on the "biblical" eye for an eye" routine. It will win a lot of hearts with the doorstep whisper campaign (hot-button politics always wins some easy votes). It will create a media buzz, as the networks try to outdo each other to display the most graphic look at violence on our streets. As able-minded, thoughtful people, WE need to stand up and paint this policy for what it really is: a last ditch Conservative attempt to curry favor with voters - in the only way they know - with the only issue they claim to own.

I wish the Cons good luck. If this is the only issue that casts them in a good light, and they're desperately reaching for it in this pre-election period, then we stand in pretty good stead.

1 comment:

WesternGrit said...

What the media NEEDS to report about the figures is:
- Are the crime figures "per capita" (meaning, per 100,000 Canadians, etc.)
- Is the increase in violent crime in proportion to the increase in all crimes (that lends credence to my argument)?

Statistics can be manipulated - especially by people who control the media and industry... They have the means, and the opportunity. We have to be watchful.

Crime is at record lows across Canada, and with time, continues to go down. Reporting of crime, on the other hand, continues to rise. Sensationalism has replaced journalism in many quarters. Crime sells. Sensationalism moves papers. Other people's dirty laundry, if you will. The media is the most evil of tools, if twisted and corrupted by private or state interests. The news media, in particular, needs to be as independent as possible. The independence of the media - and in particular, individual journalists needs to be defended and protected, even if by law.