Polls show that Americans regard crime as the number one social problem facing the nation. We fear being a victim of violent crime, or having our property violated, is far more than we fear being unemployed or suffering a loss of income. The career criminal according to James Q. Wilson, was long ago identified as: "typically an impulsive young man who grew up in a discordant family where one or both parents had a criminal record, discipline was erratic, and the human relations were cold and unpredictable. He had a low IQ and poor verbal skills. His behavioral problems appeared early, often by age eight, and included dishonesty and aggressiveness. Even in kindergarten or first grade he was disruptive, defiant, and badly behaved. He had few friends, and was not emotionally close to those associates with whom he began stealing and assaulting."
The crime rate is increasingly concentrated in the inner city. You are actually less likely to be assaulted, raped, robbed, or burglarized today than you were in 1980, unless you are a minority resident in an inner-city neighborhood. For the middle white class, all crime rates except auto theft are down. The fear of crime is universal even if the actuality is local. For minorities rates of all crimes, including homicide, are up. Black males living in these areas are 10 times more likely to die violently than the average American is. Inner-city blacks also suffer much higher rates of rape, robbery, burglary, and aggravated assault than whites.
The breakdown of societal norm, signaled by the rise in illegitimacy and other social problems, is the root cause of criminal behavior. The decline of intact families in a community is a sign that the moral and social controls that normally prevent individuals from committing crimes have disappeared. As the rates of single parenthood increase, crime rates similarly increase.
Crime and other social problems, such as the breakdown of families,...