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The Rise Of Violent Crime In Canada Essay, Research Paper

The Rise of Violent Crime In Canada

Gavin R. Hemeon

Violent crime in Canada is on the rise in Canada as well as the types of

violent crimes being committed against the public. It has been on the rise for

many, many years. I believe and intend to prove in the following essay that it

is societies responsibility for the rise of violent crime with their

unwillingness and inability to effectively deal with the current trend in our

society. In the last few years, a slight dip in violent crime has been noted,

but we must view this with skepticism as no official statistics are available.

As well as this could be an example of society realizing that the Criminal

Justice System is not effectively dealing with the trend of violence in Canada.

This would be true by way of the fact that people are not reporting these crimes

to the police. Generally all the statistics that are gathered and used by the

police are based upon reported crime and no conjecture on unreported crime is

included in these official statistics.

To fully understand what violent crime is, we must first define what

violent crime is in actuality. All to often, people in Canadian society refer to

general wrongdoing as being a crime. A simple example of this is when grocery

stores all raise their prices for certain food products. People then refer very

casually to this act as a crime or that these prices are criminal. Individuals

in our Society often have a fear of being victimized by others, such as the

government, friends and or strangers. This fear is often equated with crime

since all crimes have a winner and a loser or victim as would be the legal term.

This equation often makes involvement in these acts of “crime” a personal thing.

Which results in stronger feelings and sometimes irrational thinking towards the

whole subject of crime. Many times people are not reporting these crimes

because it is their duty in a society to help uphold the laws of ones society.

In actuality, they are reporting the crime for needed compensation whether it be

for medical costs or lost wages. Another reason some people report crimes is

because they are doing it as an avenging act to extract a revenge they could not

otherwise get for themselves. This is a main reason in the fact that police

officers need to investigate reported crimes and determine if a crime had

actually been committed or not. The crimes which are considered to be violent

crimes and which I am focusing on, I shall list next. Any form of an assault on

the person, ranging from sexual assault to Aggravated assault. Robbery,

Homicide, Attempted Homicide, and Manslaughter are all considered violent crimes.

These crimes are committed for a variety of reasons that range from

unbelievable to incredible. Some are done for fun, having no real reason at all.

Anger is a major reason for assaults being committed as well as Homicides.

Robbery of a store or mugging of an individual is another reason. As well as

pure pre-meditated violence, whether it is a beating or a murder, people use

violence to enforce other things that are considered to be valued reasons for

violence. In fact many sub-cultures of Canadian culture, such as gangs have

developed differing views on crime and see the act of assaulting another

individual as a way of settling a dispute and/or argument. A more technical

definition would be as follows;

” a crime involves the violation of a norm. Norms are social rules

ranging from the important and the binding to the less important and optional.

From which society makes attempts and rules to regulate behaviour in society ”

The Importance of the laws are measured by the level of punishments imposed upon

the offender and the sanctions in place against the law. An example of this is

lying and skipping class are considered to be minor infractions, where as murder

is considered to be one of the most atrocious acts that could be committed by a


Since the beginning of Canada, that is to say its formation as a dominion,

there has always been a crime rate for the population. Fluxations and

statistics have been recorded about the happenings of crime in Canadian culture.

These statistics have long been studied by Sociologists and other well known

scholars. The crime rate of 1867 and 1987 are just as different as the cultures

of the two different time periods are different. But an interesting correlation

has been noted with the crime rates of 1939-1938 and 1980-1988. But the rates

of violent crime that this paper is focusing on are in the recent years. In

1962 the crime rate in Canada was 221 incidents per 100,000 people which rose to

1099 per 100,000 people in 1991. The highest rate of violent crime in Canada in

1991 was in the North West Territory and was at a rate of 6,294 per 100,000

people and the lowest rate was in Prince Edward Island at a rate of 786 per

100,000 people. When the statistics are given, one must wonder as well as to

who is making up the numbers. The factor of age shows that there is a sharp

increase in criminal behaviour during adolescence and the early twenties of a

man’s life. The rate falls sharply after that and the following displays the


12 – 24 : 20% of population — Makeup 35% of violent crimes

45 and over : 32% of the population — Makeup 10% of violent crime

20 – 34 : 25% of population — Makeup 62% of inmates in correctional

facilities for violent crimes.

Another quality of these statistics is the factor of gender. The Canadian

population is roughly half and half for a ratio of men and womyn. Yet 85% – 90%

of arrests made by the law enforcement agencies are male and 97% of inmates in

correctional facilities are male as well. It must be noted that in recent years

the rate of womyn being arrested and convicted has also been rising.

Social class is another major factor in these statistics, where the greater

quantity of arrests and convictions for violent crime are individuals who fall

in the lower class part of our society. Yet if these statistics were to include

all crime, the greater quantity of arrests and convictions for crime would be of

a much higher social standing in our society.

Cultural statistics show that it is probably not a genetic or biological

factor that causes individuals to commit violent crimes. It is shown that the

rates of violent crime differ around the world. Bigger countries than Canada

having lower robbery and rape rates than our country. If these acts were based

upon biological factors than bigger countries would have higher rates since

there would be more people within those biological zones that caused violent


Another factor is economical in nature, the following statistics show the

correlation in a small way.

” Decade Decade Average Decade High

1980-88 40% 44.2%(1986)

1970-79 38% 41.3%(1973)

1960-69 37% 38.7%(1964)

1950-59 34% 36.0%(1959)

1940-49 29% 33.1%(1940)

1930-39 35% 43.1%(1933)

1920-29 26% 29.6%(1922)

1910-19 24% 26.6%(1910)

1900-09 24% 26.9%(1900)

1890-99 26% 27.9%(1898)

1880-89 26% 28.5%(1880)

1870-79 22% 28.7%(1879)

1867-69 25% 28.1%(1867)

If the years 1930-39 and 1980-88 are compared, it is found that there were

momentous stock crashes in both of those decades. The stock crash of 1929 was

far greater than that of 1988 but it proves that poor economic times result in

higher rates of crime. With individuals being more desperate and angry at the

world and society they live in. Perhaps even feeling let down by the society

they work to build and create. Why should they respect a society that is not

doing what it is supposed to do for the individual person in that society. The

statistics shown prove that even thought there have been slight dips and rises

in the overall rate of violence, it has been on a gradual increase and shows

increases with poor economic times.

In the opening paragraph, it was asserted that it was on the shoulders of

society for the responsibility of these increases in violent crime. The

following paragraphs are the reasons that will prove my arguments. The forces

of social control affect every aspect of an individual in a society such as

Canadian Society. That is, it is the attempt that society makes to regulate

behaviour of its citizens within that society. Some examples of these society

enforced roles are our status roles which place us into a hierarchy that is

given to us by society. Their are both positive and negative structures and

factors to enforce these laws rules created by the society. Positive being

praise, wealth and power for abiding by the laws of a given society. Negative

enforcers are disgrace, negative praise etc … and other forms of deterrence

that are created by society. These levels of punishment equal the importance of

the laws that they enforce in the eyes of the society. Laws against criminal

behaviour has the criminal justice system in place to enforce and act as a form

of social control.

“A formal system that responds to the alleged violations of laws using

police, courts and punishments …”

Therefore although society as a whole sees crime as a personal failure and

a choice of the individual to act upon. Society is the anvil on which ideas of

good and evil are wrought and the individuals are hammered into conformity with

applied force that is physical and personality shaping. This act is an integral

part of becoming a social organisation which is defining of its own nature.

Until recent years, there have been many sociological theories to try and

explain the appearance of violent crime in society. In 1876, Caesre Lombross

put forth the idea that stated that there were biological features that would

allow to pick out individuals that would be more prone to commit these acts of

violence. He stated that violent criminals have low foreheads, hairiness and

long arms. He stated that criminals were not as advanced in evolution as the

rest of society. Later on in his career he discarded his previous ideas of

criminals having distinct physical features. He accepted and put forth the idea

that social factors hold great importance in the formation of criminality. Even

though he did this, for many years after his death sociologists tried to prove

his theories of biological factors being a great factor in the development of

criminal behaviour. Recently genetics have reinvoked these biological causes of

criminality with the idea that men with the extra Y chromosome are more likely

to be violent offenders than men without the extra chromosome. As of now, no

evidence has been produced to support this extra chromosome corresponding with

the increased likelihood of violent crime. Currently researchers have focused

their attention on the influences of social conditions and customs.

We have recently gone through a recession which has resulted in the

government having to cut their over expenditures resulting in a poor economic

situation. There have been major cuts on an already overwhelmed social safety

system. This has caused greater levels of unemployment, homelessness, anger and

disparity. This may be the cause for the rise in armed/robbery rates around

Canada. It has been shown that in the past when there have great economic

hardships, the rate of violent crime has increased as is with the present day.

Many of the reasons for the increase in social protection and laws has been

that it has been instituted to a higher degree in the Criminal Justice System.

Tougher sentences are being given out as the state fails in controlling the

populace. This has resulted in the system being overburdened resulting

inadequate treatment of the alleged offenders. With services such as legal aid

being inadequate and available to only the most dire cases. With these tougher

sentences, people are in jail longer which has resulted in an overcrowded prison

system. The treatment of the prisoners cannot be considered anything else but

inhumane or putting rats into a confined cage. While these people are in prison,

there is nothing special for them to do. There is no rehabilitation programs or

set regiment for the prisoners to follow. Basically the prisoners just sit

around and do nothing except eat, sleep and get angry at the fact that they have

been imprisoned. They just put you into a confined space with a lot of other

individuals who are full of anger. Socially, these people are made to feel

alienated with all their personal rights being taken away from them. Including

the right to go where you please, any basic freedom is taken. This causes them

to feel like outcasts in their own societies who consider them to be failures.

The state and atmosphere they are kept in is one filled with violence and

mistrust, and all that comes from violence is more violence. Criminality is

enforced in these institutions as each individual has to follow a new set of

customs and laws that exists as a sub-culture of Canadian culture. The

prisoners hate the outside society for forcing them to be locked up away from

the mainstream of the society they used to exist in. This causes anti – social

behaviour to arise from the prisoners as they assume the role society has given

them which is the idea that they cannot exist in the main society around them.

In the 1960’s and 1970’s, community based programs were being implemented

and used to try and rehabilitate criminals. It was also the first step towards

greater social control over the population. Yet the results were not

satisfactory in the eyes of the society, so the leaders of the criminal justice

system opted out to take the easy way and implement greater social protection

methods. This was achieved by enforcing longer sentences upon the offenders.

This was done even though the community based programs were working to some

degree. No attempt was made to augment these programs and increase their


With all the pages of statistics gathered by the government, no attempt was

made to find out why the main percentage of offenders were male. The statistics

show that something is abnormal in the socialization of males that doesn’t

conform to the ideals and norms of the society.

Instead of trying to help the population of prisoners and offenders,

violence and cruelty towards prisoners has only increased. Even though capital

punishment has been abolished, In the years 1980 to 1986, sixty-three prisoners

were killed with legal intervention. That is, they were killed by police or

prison guards in the course of their duties and by their actions which was

deemed appropriate by the criminal justice system.

Between 1979 and 1988 seventy-seven prisoners died per year on average, of

which 33 per year were accepted as suicides. This shows that prison cannot be a

helpful thing to the personal well being of the prisoner as there wouldn’t be

that many suicides if it was a helpful and rehabilitative course of action.

With the increase in the prison population, there has also been an increase

in the probationary population. When politicians speak of them as using

probation as a community based program, all they are doing is increasing the

amount of government repressive apparatus used to keep the society it leads down

and controlled.

For as long as history books and records have been kept, there has been a

crime rate. The statistics show that the concept and utilization of prisons is

not a viable solution to the violent crime problem in our society. It has done

nothing except allow for the increase of the crime it is supposed to control and

allow many deaths to arise from these systems in place. They continue to repeat

themselves as they did with the two economic crashes of this century. Society

has tried to lay the brunt of responsibility on other factors which have been

proved to be wrong and/or inconclusive. This being the biological factor or the

idea that it is a personal failure. If society would accept the responsibility

for what it has created, then perhaps a solution could be found and implemented

for the benefit of all in a society. Every few years, society comes out with a

new improved solution to the problems of violent crime. Yet the question is

never put forth with the idea of the inability to find a solution to a problem

is actually the greater problem that we have. Since the solution cannot be

properly found or instituted if the actual problem is not understood by the

people trying to implement their uninformed solutions. Some areas that could be

covered with a new study is how males are taught to deal with their emotions and

problems. Social upheavals have occurred in recent times and gender roles have

been obscured causing more problems with the continuity of society. Values and

ideas are being taught to new members of a society which are old and out dated

methods. This could be a causing factor into which violence is increasing. As

frustration increases and a lack of understanding of how to interact among

different people in a society is gone, the problems appear to be mounting and

getting bigger everyday. The social methods of control are falling behind and

chaos is coming out as a leader in our society.


Fleming, Thomas. The New Crimonolgies in Canada. Toronto: Oxford University

Press, 1985.

Johnson, Holly. Violent Crime. Canadian Social Trends.

Larsen,Nick. The Candian Criminal Justice System. Toronto: Canadian Scholars

Press Inc., 1995.

Macionis, John J.. Sociology. Scarborough, Ontario: Prentice-Hall Canada Inc.,


Roberts, Albert R.. Critical Issues in Crime and Justice. Thousand Oaks,

California: Sage Publications, 1994.

Siverman, Robert A., Teevan, James J.. Crime in Canadian Society. Toronto,

Canada: Butterworth and Co. Ltd., 1975.

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