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The real reason behind worldwide wave of crime and violence

Lawlessness is on the upswing worldwide.
Yet sociologists and criminologists are for the most part ignoring the root causes of crime.


In London, a Regent Street shopkeeper is attacked and robbed by a gang of juveniles while waiting for an underground train. In Sydney, Australia, a teenage girl is raped while her boyfriend is forced to look on helplessly.

In Montreal, a secretary taking a walk in the park during her lunch break is suddenly grabbed from behind, dragged into the bushes, raped and beaten.

In Miami Beach, a 70-year-old woman who had recently moved south to escape crime in New York City is tied up, beaten, and choked to death by two armed robbers.

In Hamburg, West Germany, an American tourist is knifed and robbed on the waterfront.

In Paris, an elderly man gets off the bus to walk the short distance to his home. Within minutes he is lying dead on the sidewalk, his body full of knife wounds and his wallet and watch missing.

Crime and violence are becoming a way of life in much of the world today. Shocking crimes which a decade or two ago would have made front-page headlines are now so numerous that, in many cases, they are no longer news. Offenses of murder, armed robbery, aggravated assault, rape, kidnapping, burglary, arson, vandalism and the like continue on the upswing around the globe, despite ever-increasing expenditures for law enforcement. Developed and developing nations — democratic and communist — all are reporting rising levels of crime.

Crime statistics, however, do not begin to tell the whole story. Studies reveal that up to two-thirds of all crimes are never reported! Many victims are either fearful or too embarrassed to come forward, or believe that nothing can or will be done even if they do.


Crime on the Rampage

The United States continues to be the trend-setter, with the highest crime rate of any Western industrialized nation. In a nation which spends nearly $20 billion a year to fight crime, someone is murdered every 26 minutes — over 20,000 people in 1976. Figures continue to surge upward in virtually all other crime categories as well.

In Britain, law enforcement officials are concerned over the dramatic increase in crimes of violence and vandalism, and police warn that Britain could face violent crime "on an American scale" within a few years' time. The rate of murder and manslaughter has doubled over the past 15 years. And the rise in "petty" crime, such as shoplifting, is termed "shocking."

In France — where serious crime has tripled in the past 14 years — the situation is becoming so serious that the government has set up a special commission to search for solutions to the problem.

Italy is experiencing a crime wave of unprecedented proportions, and police officials are deeply concerned. Among other crimes, kidnappings for ransom have skyrocketed. And Rome now has the distinction of being "the most thief-ridden city in Europe."

In West Germany, crime figures are up in most major cities. Authorities are especially worried by a marked rise in political terrorism.

In Canada and Australia, the rising level of crime and violence is also triggering public concern.

In Mexico, crime is growing at an alarming pace, with recent statistics showing Mexico's crime rate to be three times that of the United States and five times that of France.

Crime statistics are rarely available for the Soviet Union, but reports from foreign newspapermen there indicate a rise in city crime — notably car theft — as well as hooliganism or petty crime.

The People's Republic of China, currently experiencing a period of political and social tension, is in the midst of a widespread crime wave, including an upsurge in bank robberies, looting, rape and murder.

And so the story goes in nation after nation today.


The Causes

Why is crime skyrocketing around the world? What are the causes of crime? Many diverse theories have been put forward in an attempt to explain crime, including poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, racial discrimination, the easy availability of guns, inadequate police protection, unequal and delayed justice, alcohol and drugs, urbanization, financial strains due to inflation, the impact of television and motion picture violence, genetics, and so on.

These factors unquestionably contribute to and aggravate the problem of crime, but are not, in and of themselves, root causes of it. What are often termed "causes" of crime are more often just excuses or justifications for it, or at best secondary or tertiary causes.

Many people live in poverty, for example, but do not commit crime. In fact, the poor are the greatest victims of crime. Surprisingly, robbery and burglary actually declined in the United States during the Depression years of the 1930s, and later began to increase once again as prosperity returned!

Many are unemployed or are under financial pressures of one sort or another, but do not resort to crime. Most citizens of racial minorities, though possible victims of discrimination, have not become criminals because of it. Most gun owners — handgun owners included — do not use them for criminal purposes. Most city dwellers do not turn to crime because of the pressures of city life.

What, then, are the real underlying root causes of crime? Before viable solutions can be sought, the real causes must be pinpointed.


Breakdown of the Home

Criminologists have often observed that we are bringing crime and violence upon ourselves by the kind of society we have. And, not surprisingly, it's back to the home — the basic building block of society — that most crime can ultimately be traced.

The breakdown of family life and the home is a major social trend in nation after nation today. Consequently, the home — which should stand as a strong bastion of resistance against the permissive and lawless influences of society — is no longer playing its proper role.

One does not have to be a psychologist to uncover the real causes of crime. Interviews with criminals themselves quickly reveal a common denominator — problems in the home.

From petty thieves to mass murderers, the same stories are heard over and over again: stories of parental neglect, or overindulgence; stories of harsh and severe discipline, or of none at all; stories of a weak or absent father figure, or of a domineering mother; stories of incest and other horrible sexual perversion within the home; stories of parental hypocrisy and double standards; stories of an absence of genuine love, understanding and affection in the family; stories of a lack of spiritual and moral training; stories of mothers leaving the home for a job of their own, abandoning children to sitters, day-care centers, or the streets; stories of broken homes and divorce; stories of parents "doing their own thing" and letting children fend for themselves.

Parents, in short, have abdicated their responsibility of molding right character and instilling moral values into their children. In far too many cases, there is little or no teaching of respect for authority and the rights of others, of honesty, decency, reliability and cooperation. And in far too many cases, there is no strong parental example to reinforce such teaching when it is present.

And, of course, today's morally emasculated schools do little to fill the gaps left by the parents. Neither do the world's churches, which have failed to powerfully and effectually set forth concrete moral and spiritual guidelines for everyday life.

The result?

Unprincipled, emotionally unstable, misguided and confused children — future criminals in the making. And even if some do not turn to crime, they nevertheless remain psychologically scarred for life.

"Train up a child in the way he should go," counseled Solomon in Proverbs 22:6, "and when he is old, he will not depart from it." Yet how many are following this sage advice today?

An American newsmagazine recently reported the following in this regard: "Japan is an almost crime-clean nation by Western standards. . . . Japan's record for law and order is the envy of police in the industrialized West. Japan is safe and getting safer."



"Make a chain: for the land is full of bloody crimes,
and the city is full of violence. . . . All the land is full of murder and injustice."
Ezekiel 7:23; 9:9


Experts, the report explains, give most of the credit to Japan's social cohesion, the close-knit Japanese family, and respect for authority and tradition instilled in children by the parents.

The breakdown of the home and neglect of parental responsibilities is without doubt a major root cause of today's worldwide crime epidemic. Crime prevention starts in the home. Yet all too many "experts" continue to pursue solutions based on secondary or tertiary causes of crime. Until they begin to emphasize the need for a revitalization of the family, crime will continue to surge upward.