Philadelphia currently has one of the highest rates of violent crime among major cities in the world. The offenses categorized as “violent” include forcible rape, murder, robbery, and aggravated assault. Studies on violence have broadly found strong relationships between criminal activity and the following key dynamic indicators; Education level, Socio-economic status, Race, Age, Gender, Population density and Land use. In Philadelphia however, the cause and effects ideology of violent crime has several related causes, perhaps with different degrees of proximity. It is therefore good to consider a number of these factors which are claimed to be highly connected for the perpetration of violence to be undertaken.
First of all the connection between drug use in Philadelphia and violent crime is very pronounced and numerous studies show that drugs use directly relates to crime in multiple ways. According to The Office of national Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), Illegal and illicit drugs are directly related to violent crime through the effects they have on the user’s behavior. Pharmacologic effects emanating from the drugs contribute to the emergence of violent crime since offences are fuelled by the user’s need for money to support continued use. More so offences connected to drug distribution itself and the drug using lifestyle are more violent. The emergence of numerous drugs running organized crime outfits in Philadelphia such as the Black Mafia, Irish mob, Jewish mob and the Jamaican posse has generally sponsored the high concurrencies and frequency of Violent crime which is evident in as the number of inmates in correction facilities needing substance abuse treatment is very high.
A second factor that is a major cause of violent crime in Philadelphia is the ever increasing rate of joblessness and poverty especially among inner city men as a result of several reasons. Major transformations in he American economy has necessitated a change from low skill, high wage industrial manufacturing to a dual sector economy comprised of low wage service employment and high wage managerial or technology oriented positions that require advanced training. This directly translates into high rates of joblessness and poverty among these males which is evident from the 2000 U.S. Census which ranked Philadelphia as the 7thpoorest cities among cities with populations over 250,000. Subsequently it is much more difficult to encourage low income inner city males who are not succeeding in the educational system to pursue low wage employment rather than engage in violent crime which comes with huge amounts of money, material goods and social status.
Thirdly the demise of the ‘family’ life and the increase in family violence has played a major role in the emergence of juvenile violent crime in Philadelphia. According to leading psychologists, Improper parental care such as mothers who drink alcohol, take drugs, smoke cigarettes, and do other such things while they are pregnant put their children at high risk for problems. These drugs keep the babies from getting the nutrients they need which, in turn, causes disorders in the babies. This products abuse has been linked to delinquency as the babies grow up with learning disorders. Certain parts of the child’s brain do not fully develop thus impairing their ability to learn things such as the difference between right and wrong. These Children are probably abused or neglected and most of them grow up in a single parent household. Majority of these children are more likely to be arrested, and are much more likely to commit a violent crime as an adult since they display “high levels of aggression and antisocial behavior”. Also in Philadelphia the common low wage family is fractured, this leads to an emergence of street gangs and a youth oriented music called “gangsta rap” that encourages seexual violence towards females and the use of violence to resolve disputes.
There are several major consequences of violent crime in Philadelphia. Foremost is the premature loss of life. The early loss of life is tragic since it deteriorates the social stability of the community. Secondly, high rates of violence contribute to the high rate of incarceration .According to a survey conducted in Philadelphia; one in four Black males between 20 and 29 years of age is in jail, prison, or under community supervision. Thirdly, the fear and friction among gangs has emerged as a routine feature of living in the inner city. Fear and suspicion between members of one community is not conducive to the development of the type of social unity and stability that is necessary to overcome the causes of violent crime. Lastly an increasing number of Philadelphia’s population is carrying lethal weapons out of a need for protection or as a result of a sense of fear.
In conclusion, Crime prevention is not only about trying to mitigate the occurrences but rather about how the offenders and potential offenders are dealt with. Since in Philadelphia violent crime has three much related causes with different degrees of proximity, emphasis should be laid on the need to examine these characteristics and causes of violent crime prior to developing responses to them. Meanwhile more specific solutions such as the formation of community based outfits to establish and implement anti-violence programs. Violence prevention on the community level should include recreation centers used as a hook to expose the youth to conflict resolution and mentoring programs. Also communities must work with local politicians and law enforcement to deploy a comprehensive community policing program and lastly the federal government should enforce a total ban on hand gun ownership in Philadelphia as handguns are the primary means used to commit most violent crimes.