What is the main cause of crime and its imperative relationship to poverty? Such a question at first may seem unanswerable because we could never pin point the exact cause of such worldwide problems. Crime and poverty have been around from time was time and there is no doubt that crime is on the increase not only in the world but also in Belize.
During these past years, Belize has been infested with an outbreak of crime and violence and it appears to be at its peak. And the reason for this is many, for instance, the principal and most evident of them all would be the increasing rate of poverty that Belize has been experiencing owing to the vast opening in the midst of the poor and the rich that appears to be widening on a daily basis rather than closing up. The poor people of Belize see no other means to endurance and to stay alive and feel that they must resort to their last alternative, stealing, the most commonest form of crime found in Belize. Adding to this would be the high rate of unemployment that exists in our society mainly brought about by lack of education. So again, the only way for the uneducated, unemployed, and poor people to outlive such a way of living is once again resorting to a world of crime.
Nevertheless, although there are many who see crime as a means of survival there are others who indulge in criminal acts for mere fun. For instance, those who are members of the call color gangs, choose to live a life of crime and violence because they believe it is cool to be bad. This gang problem has been triggered by the American television and their way of life, because by watching television we see how the American carry out their lives and we imitate them and do the same. So crime in Belize has reached its high point and the cause are many, but do we stop to ask, what is the solution to such problems? And do we really take time out to really answer the question? And if we do, do we find methods or means to deal with the problem? There are solutions to any problem and the solution to crime is no exception. Crime in Belize has gone beyond our reach because we have let it slip, this is so because we allow criminals to get away with criminal acts. There is a need to implement more severe punishments to crimes committed so as to set examples for other criminals who have not reached to an ex5reme, the laws need to be revised and be placed in enforcement and this can only be done by more police action. There is a need to educate the Belizean children and lead them to a better life, take them off the streets and teach them right from wrong. There is also a need to alleviate poverty so as to lower the high percentage of violence and crime both in urban and rural areas of Belize because by alleviating these problems there would be less criminals resorting to stealing as a means of survival. Therefore, one way of trying to solve or alleviate the problem is by being a united country and by voicing our opinions to those who can truly help make a difference; like the lawmakers and politicians.
What is Crime?
When you think of crime and criminals, you probably think of the dangerous looking characters you see played on television or in the movies. But there are lawbreakers like these in real life, too, and you read about their crimes every week in the newspaper. What exactly, is a crime then? A crime is any act, which breaks the law or fails to obey some requirement of the law. According to this definition, anyone who smokes in a bus or breaks a traffic regulation is guilty of committing a crime. These minor crimes are called misdemeanors. More serious crimes are called felonies. Felonies include all crimes that are punishable by more than a year in jail.
Types of Crimes
Crime has been on the increase in Belize, as in all countries of the world. In these past years, we have seen an increase in all types of crime. For example, crimes of violence, which are crimes committed against persons. Murder, one of the most serious crimes of violence and one of the major ones that have been seen for through the past years, especially among gang members. Aggravated assault is another form of crime that has to do with any kind of physical injury that is done intentionally to another person. There are also crimes against property, theft or stealing that are among the most common crimes committed in Belize. Associated with above mentioned is robbery, where property is taken from someone by causing him to fear for his life or by threatening him with violence. Another form of this already mentioned crime is burglary, where the entering of a home with the intention to steal.
Crime and its Causes
It is shocking to see that young people commit the highest percentage of crime. Evidence shows that most people arrested for crimes each year are between the ages of 18-25 or sometimes even younger. So then, the questions come up, why are young people lawbreakers? What cusses them to commit criminal acts? It is obvious that all the reasons are not certain because young people are many times hard to understand, thus, it is difficult to find out what makes them behave as they do. But according to experts’ world wide, who for many years have studied the problem, there are many things that bring about or that seem to give grounds to youngsters indulging in criminal acts.
For instance, the primary reason that should be taken into consideration is poor home conditions, which play a part in the cause of young criminals. Many young criminals come from homes where parents may take no responsibility for their children. In such homes, the parent may not get along well together, and they may show little concern for the welfare and education of their children. The great numbers of slum areas in our country, mainly the city, often have a high rate of criminal activity. Places where families are crowded together in unpleasant dwellings, young people are most likely to get into trouble. Sometimes, their actions are simply a search for thrills and adventures. There are many who break the law really as an attempt to get even with the society for the kind of life they have to endure in the slums. To add to this, and also sharing the primary cause would be would be a means to survival. Many people who live in poor conditions sometimes have no other way of maintaining their homes so they resort to stealing. They are of the opinion that the only way to survive the day to day hardship is to indulge in a life of crime and one of the main reasons for their behaviors are the law of employment. Unemployment play a massive role in the cause of crime because the people feel that if they can no9t work to sustain themselves they must steal in order to keep their selves and their families surviving. Therefore, the poor home conditions and the feeling of survival is one of the main causes of crime in our country just as it is for most of the other countries in the world.
Another reason that encourages crime in our country is membership in gangs. Many young people who get into trouble with the law are or have some relationship with gangs or gang members. For many young men, in particular, crime is likely to be a gang activity, just as important as the money they obtain by stealing is the thrill that they get in challenging the police. A young member of a gang may feel that he must prove to his other gang members that he is brave by risking the chances of getting caught in order to gain respect among his gang members. Many join gangs so as to feel protected and to feel that they belong because to them a gang means family, the major or two most known gangs in Belize are the crips represented by the color blue and the bloods represented by the color red. For many years there has been a constant feud between these two gangs and such feud has brought about blood shed and left many wounded. Many of these gang members are responsible for a high percentage of crimes committed in our society because their daily means of living exist mainly on stealing to get money. Not to say that these are the only two gangs that exist in our country because this is not so there are others that have given rise through the years, there are others found in our districts but none more notorious than crips and the bloods. In adding to this, it can be said that gangs are influenced mainly by American television, our young people see the violence and wrong doings portrayed by young Americans and feel that they need to do the same to be cool and bad. And to conclude the issue of gangs, it takes a person of strong character to break away from a gang when he/she becomes involved in criminal acts.
Similar to gang members or related to gangs are students who drop out of school who get involve in crime and most of the time in gangs. School dropouts are many times not necessarily headed for lives of crime, but many times it is seen that those who do not finish high school are more likely to become members of gangs or mere criminals. Being absent and skipping classes is often one of the signs of a possible delinquent. The schools drop out who is not able to get a decent job and who spends his day in idleness is likely to get into trouble with the law. And in Belize especially in the city we can see a lot of dropouts who just hang out on street corners doing nothing and many times become members of gangs.
The use of alchol and drugs often or most of the time contribute to crime. Almost every country in the world, including Belize has laws forbidding the sale of alcoholic beverages to anyone under 18 or 21 years of age. All countries forbid the sale of habit-forming drugs to anyone unless approved by a doctor. Yet, criminals break the law and sell drugs to young people. So, we might ask our selves, how does drug relate to criminal activity?
There are three kinds of relationship: psychopharmacological, economic-compulsive, and systemic. A psychopharmacological relationship exists when someone commits a crime because of some drug induced change in mood or physiological function, it is also implied when a drug increase impulsivity. Economic-compulsive reasons involve committin a crime to obtain money to buy drugs. Systemic reasons involve drug related drive by shootings, rip offs of buyers and sellers, murders to eliminate rivals, and bribery or perjury to avoid conviction. In belize we see the three inds of relationship in our society giving most concern to the economic-compulsive reason. Although, many murders throught the past year have been committed due to systemic reasons, where members of gangs and drug trafficers have murdered people who have in some way muddle in their deals. And there are also many crimes committed by people who were under the effect of some drugs.
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Crime is a major problem in the United States. When reading a newspaper or watching TV, it is impossible not to hear about some murder, robbery or violent act. There are many different ideas on how to solve the crime problem. Here are a few of mine.
One is to have stiffer punishment for all criminals. With early parole, many criminals are only serving part of their sentences, and then going back out on the streets. This negates the purpose of prison. If a criminal is given a five-year sentence, he should serve five years and not be allowed out ahead of time for so-called good behavior. A prisoner's good behavior in prison should not matter. After all, it was his bad behavior that got him in prison in the first place. Criminals shoudl also be given lengthier prison terms, and in the case of murder, should have to face the possibility of the death penalty. With no chance of early release, longer prison terms, and the death penalty, potential criminals might think twice about committing a crime.
Another solution is to increase the size of the police force and other law enforcement agencies. The local, state, and federal governments should spend more on police forces. With a larger police force, the community would feel a greater sense of security, and possible law breakers might not commit a crime because of the increased fear of being caught.
Last, teaching teenagers and younger children the consequences of committing a crime and the dead-end life that goes with it would prevent some future ciminals from ruining their lives. By having police officers coming into schools and talk to kids, as well as taking children to jails to see what happens when they turn to crime, children may see that crime does not pay. The results of this solution might now be evidenced quickly, but time would show its success.
These are just a few of the many possible solutions to controlling the crime problem. By following these ideas, the number of crimes would go down, and, then maybe it would be safe for everyone, no matter where they live, to walk through their neighborhood. ?
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.