How Slums Are Criminogenic

It is well known that in most countries, the most run-down and poverty stricken areas tend to have the most crime, property and violent. No one quite knows why this is. Do criminal and screw-up types simply gradually fail in life and end up living in slums? Possibly. But more than that, the environment of a slum is often criminogenic. In many slums, you grow up in a “culture of crime.” Your role models are gangsters, drug dealers and assorted hoods. If you go to school at all, a lot of your friends are delinquents. Peer pressure effects humans at all ages, not just adolescents. If people all around you are ripping stuff off all the time, you might just decide to do it too. Monkey see, monkey do. Many slums are barely even policed anymore as the cops have given up on them, think they are hopeless or possibly avoid them as too dangerous to patrol in much. Hence a lot of crime in slums probably goes unpunished. Unpunished crime simply breeds more crime. “Yeehaw! I got away with it! Let’s do it again!” It can also lead to criminal escalation via a mechanism I will explain later. Violence similarly tends to beget violence. If most everyone around you is violent, you might get violent too. Trust me, I have spent a lot of time around violent folks, and you inevitably get violent just being around them if only to defend yourself from their frequent assaults and provocations. A boy looks around and sees all the men beating their wives and he grows up to be a wife-beater. Frequent street fights are exciting and breed even more fights due to the danger – excitement and possibly revenge factor. The revenge factor is one horrible way that violent crime is criminogenic in and of itself – violent crime simply begets more violent crime. People retaliate for property crimes, but they really retaliate hard for violent crimes. So one homicide is followed by new revenge homicides like night follows day on and on until you have a near battlefield of warring gangs. Young men grow up in these neighborhoods, see other young men fighting and dying young and become fatalistic. Many young men in these neighborhoods openly tell you that they do not care if they live or die and/or that they fully expect to die young. The thing about expectations in life is they are often filled. Squalor itself causes crime. The Broken Windows Theory of policing was very controversial when implemented in New York. They did studies where someone would smash a window in a vacant store. The researchers would then watch the area. Soon many more windows were bashed out, then nearly stores had their windows bashed out. Graffiti started appearing on the walls. As the area degraded, it attracted types who like degraded areas (criminals). More and more men showed up, drinking, doping and selling drugs. Property crimes started going up and then violent crimes appeared. It is an exaggeration to say it is all from a broken window, but you get the picture. If you think this website is valuable to you, please consider a contribution to support the continuation of the site.

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0 thoughts on “How Slums Are Criminogenic”

  1. Its hard to be gentle in a violent environment. You have to become hardened and project strength and even be willing to fight just to defend yourself. In brutal environments, the weak are preyed upon.
    There is a Chinese saying along the lines of if you are going to kill somebody then dig two graves.
    I was thinking about this crime in poor areas phenomenon yesterday. If you think about it, if everybody had middle class money,property and a lifestyle, who would bother breaking into another middle class home to rob something? Hardly anybody! There’s no point. Even if people just had enough and lived comfortably, it would happen a lot less. Where I live, a lot of that happens because people are desperate to fund their drug habit so that’s the other issue..

    1. This is a cool comment, especially the first 2 paragraphs. About the 3rd paragraph, that’s what happens under socialism or Communism. Crime rate basically collapses.

      1. And of course, if you have to show aggression to defend yourself, you end up feeling it too. Your innate capacity for violence and aggression is encouraged and cultivated, rather than your capacity for gentleness and kindness, as in a positive culture.

      2. Only under communism many people die because they starve to death due to collective farming such as under Mao. Many starvation deaths happened under Stalin too. People don’t work as hard if they aren’t held accountable and only a group is held accountable. Either things go wrong or one or 2 people do all the work out of several. I learned this through school group projects growing up.
        I think the deserving poor who are willing to work should be helped. People that just want to go on welfare their entire lives should be forced to sink or swim.

  2. Regarding fatalism, this was displayed very much by the Tupac Shakur. He expressed at times a death wish (ie didn’t want to kill himself but wanted to die), not wanting to come back to earth after he died and the belief that he would die young, which he did. He was very intelligent, engaged with the plight of black Americans and very sensitive. I think he felt a lot of compassion for his fellow African Americans but also a lot of sorrow and despair about the world he lived in. He used to have guns, associated with some of the wrong people and promoted the ‘thug life’ (which he had his own interpretation of). He went down a route where I think he refused to disassociate himself with the situation of his fellow poor African Americans.
    Watch this video of him when he was 17. He really was a wonderful kid that could have taken a very different route. At one point in his life as an adolescent he was taken in by a Jewish women who he became firm friends with; they read books and discussed spirituality and mysticism. Somebody commented on this ages ago that if he was Jewish, he’s have stayed like this.
    Here is some kind of police or court interview later on:
    Some of his songs are gangstery but some show a deep social conscience and solidarity.

  3. This seems to be a post favoring nurture over nature. I would agree totally as nature is over-rated.

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