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Why New York is Safer than Chicago

Фото: Depositphotos

While the United States is confronting gun violence, the New York City Police Department has released encouraging news. At the moment, 2016 of the year, reports the Office, 435 shooting incidents occurred in the city - a record low number in the last 20 years, as well as 161 murder. On the other hand, in Chicago in the first half of this year, more than 2000 people were shot and 315 killed, which is 50% higher than in the same period last year. Only on the weekend of Memorial Day, 64 people were shot. Six of them died.

Behind these headlines is the fact that today the crime rate in America is about half as high as the one at the peak of 1991. New York from one of the "most dangerous cities in America" ​​has become a "one of the most peaceful metropolitan areas of the developed world."

Franklin Zimring, a criminal law specialist at the University of California at Berkeley, writes that New York is rather an exception to the big picture. From 1985 to 2009, the number of murders fell by 82%, attacks by 67%, and robberies by 86%. Although the crime rate in Chicago is now lower than in the 80s or 90s, the city is still less safe than other cities: as of 2014, the crime rate in Chicago was 32% higher than in New York. , and 44% higher than in Los Angeles (although almost half (!) lower than in Detroit, St. Louis and Oakland). Comparing the crime of New York and Chicago, you can get to key questions - for example, how do American cities develop (or not), how isolated their communities are, how violence is transmitted between people and how, in the end, the environment shapes behavior. And although academics, experts, and other specialists offer their own explanations for why crime is increasing or decreasing in a particular city (for example, due to abortion), there are a number of quite empirical explanations for these trends.

Behavior is formed «on area»

Brooklyn College sociologist Alex Vitale is skeptical of the impact of public order on crime reduction. He says it should be taken rather in the context of a nationwide downward trend. “It would be correct to understand that, probably, the New York police did something to reduce the number of shootings in New York in comparison with other cities,” says Vitale. “It’s not that they detained and searched everyone on the street to take away their weapons, and because of this they started shooting less, no. That doesn't explain the 95% change in car thefts and robberies. ”

Wednesday is the best explanation. It is in this plane that New York and Chicago are very different. Due to economic factors, systemic housing discrimination, zoning laws that isolate the poor, and many other factors, there are areas of concentrated poor people in Chicago, especially for African Americans. A 2015 study by Paul Yargowski of Rutgers University found that more than a third of all poor African Americans in Chicago live in census areas with a poverty rate of more than 40% - compared with only 26% in New York.

Such a concentration of poverty leads to a “district effect”, sociologists say — that is, the area of ​​residence greatly influences behavior. For example, when single mothers of Philadelphia were placed in communities with low poverty levels, their learning success was higher than in the control group in communities with high levels of poverty. Vitale says that poverty concentrated in one place becomes total. If you are a teenager or young person 20 for years and live in such an environment, then, according to Vitale, you need to demonstrate the ability to violence, otherwise you will constantly be made a victim. That is, it is more self-defense than the desire to be a predator, a sociologist believes.

“In New York, the neighborhood effect is only seen in a few places,” Vitale says. “There, concentrated poverty - for example, in the format of social housing - is a source of gun violence. "But in Chicago, a third of the city falls under this dynamic."

That is why, according to the sociologist, working with individuals will not produce results in the long term, because it does not change the culture of the environment. When one generation grows out of violence, sits in custody or dies, the next group of 13-14-year-olds are ready to replace them. Structural poverty creates social structures.

Shootout are contagious

Andrew Papachristos, a sociologist at Yale University, says that most of the violence with weapons in Chicago does not occur between strangers, but among acquaintances. According to Science of Us, 70% of non-lethal gunshot wounds in Chicago between 2006 and 2012 years were inflicted inside a network of acquaintances covering no more than 6% of the total population of the city. And 89% of these victims belonged to a single social network comprising 107 740 people.

This shows how violence with the use of weapons - like smoking or obesity - is spread from person to person, as a social infection. Symbolic motifs — revenge, status acquisition, and collective memory — lead to skirmishes between gangs. And although today no one has analyzed the New York skirmishes from the point of view of social groups, it can be assumed that the less concentrated poverty of the city, distributed between five districts, means a lower level of transmission of “social infections” than in Chicago - although without confirmed data it remains just an assumption.

In the short term, says Papachristos, local interventions can be initiated, similar to those that have been successful in the fight against HIV. Police visits to families affected by gun violence can also be complemented by visits from trauma specialists, since immediate intervention can help reduce the risk of post-traumatic stress. Such interventions at the level of small communities have already been implemented in other cities. In Richmond, California, there is a program for 50 young people who are most at risk of shooting or being shot down, for which they receive mentoring and a monthly stipend in exchange for abstaining from violence and fulfilling the “life plan” of their ambitions. Thanks to this program, the number of murders from 2007 to 2014 year was reduced by 70%. The founder of the program DeVon Boggan said that its goal is to send young people to the “right” channel and provide them with social services. This, in turn, reduces the risk of their “contamination” by social violence.

There are so many explanations for reducing crime, especially in New York, that these should be dealt with separately and with a scientific approach. Among all these relationships and statistics, it becomes clear that criminology is as important a science as sociology, and that it will need a lot of empirical research. But it seems that people commit violence with weapons because, like other people, they fall into the midst of people and the place in which they live. Therefore, if we want to change this toxic, destructive behavior, we must also change the context from which it comes.

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