Violence is a problem plaguing society. Determining what causes violence is a complex issues. I believe that the causes of violence are rooted in social issues. The inability for individuals to access there basic needs, find employment sources that will sustain their basic needs and previous exposures to violence or family instability are all factors that influence violence in society. Furthermore, the norms present in impoverished societies directly affect what individuals perceive as acceptable behaviors. In addition to these factors, drug use is another issue that causes violent behaviors.
In exploring the root causes of violence, Carpenter & Nevin (2010) found “violent and anti-social behavior is usually attributed to social factors, including poverty, poor education and family instability” (p. 260). On a basic level, all of these factors contribute to the individual’s ability to secure economic stability. Individuals living in poverty may need to turn to other means in order to support themselves. This is problematic as it can create sense of instability in families, as parents breaking laws may find themselves incarcerated for long periods. Yet children that do not have their basic needs met cannot effectively learn. As a result, these children tend to do worse in school. This theoretical foundation of causes of crime and violence is best-addressed using Maslow’s Hierarchy. Maslow’s Hierarchy argues that individuals cannot move on to one set of needs until their previous set of needs is fulfilled. On a basic level, the individual’s need for food, water, shelter and clothes all influence whether or not the individual can begin focusing on safety needs (Shippensburg University, 2012).
The strain theory asserts that economically deprived societies formulate their own norms that differ from the norms present in mainstream society (Siegel, 2010). In this sense, the exposure to violence and violent acts may become a part of the dominant norms present within the micro-society. Research from Ohio State University (2011) further concurs with this assessment. In this research, Ohio State University found that race was not a good indicator of violence. Instead, poverty is the main indicator that the individual will engage in violent acts. Yet, in neighborhoods that are economically disadvantaged, it is difficult for individuals to find forms of employment. Even if the individual finds a job, it is unlikely that it will pay enough to support their basic needs.
Another issue that is associated with violent behaviors is drug use. Although drug use is common amongst people, regardless of social class, drug use has been shown to increase violent tendencies. The United States Department of Justice (2010) further found “in 2004, 17% of state prisoners and 18% of federal inmates said they committed their violent offenses in order to obtain money for drugs” (para. 4). In a separate study, the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (2012) found that 78% of all violent crimes where committed while the offender was using drugs. The high proportion of individuals that commit crimes to obtain money for drugs or commit violent crimes while on drugs is undoubtedly one of the main causes of violent crimes.
Determining why individuals commit violent crimes is a complicated issue. Although drug use is rooted in social issues; there are multiple social issues that increase the likelihood the individual will engage in violent acts. These issues range from economic impoverishment to the influence the dominant norms present in the micro-society have on the people. In addition to these issues, drug use is another issue. Drug use affects people, regardless of their economic status. Multiple researchers have found a strong correlation between drug use and violent acts. In reviewing these social issues, it becomes increasingly clear that violence in society is rooted in social problems.
- Abraham Maslow (2012) Shippensburg University. Retrieved September 11, 2014 from: http://webspace.ship.edu
- Carpenter D.O., Nevin R. (2010) Environmental causes of violence. Physiology & Behavior 99 (1) 260-268.
- Drug and Crime Facts (2012) Bureau of Justice Statistics. Retrieved September 11, 2014 from: http://www.bjs.gov/
- New CASA* Report Finds: 65% of All U.S. Inmates Meet Medical Criteria for Substance Abuse Addiction, Only 11% Receive Any Treatment (2011) National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse. Retrieved September 11, 2014 from: http://www.casacolumbia.org/
- Poverty, Not Race, Tied to High Crime Rates in Urban Communities (2011) Ohio State University. Retrieved September 11, 2014 from: http://researchnews.osu.edu
- Seigel L. (2011) Criminology. New York: Pearsons.