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Crime in Canada: Causes, Regulation and Legislation Essay

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Updated: Jan 14th, 2022

Introduction

Crime has been a social evil for many centuries. There are those activities that are universally accepted to constitute a crime, however, what might be considered the crime in one society is not necessarily applied in a different society; for instance, looking at a woman lustfully in the Middle East is a grand crime whereas in Canada that would be considered a social norm. Universal crimes would include murder, robbery, kidnapping, rape, corruption, drug trafficking, and slave or human trafficking. The third world countries of Africa and South America experience high rates of crimes. Developed countries, on the other hand, e.g. the United States and Canada experience lower rates. For further analysis of this topic, I am going to use Canada as my point of reference. The period between 1990 and 2000 saw a decline in crimes at an average rate of 2% per year. Crimes involving property declined by 30%, and violent crimes dropped by 10%. This was the case in the United States as well during this period (Gannon, 2001).

Thesis statement

The decline in general crime in Canada could be attributed to the well-established investigative and judicial systems. However, the legislature needs to come up with more effective sanctions on crime.

Causes of crime

Inflation being a major indicator of economic prosperity is regarded as a contributing factor to anti-social behavior. Inflation tends to counteract the value of disposable income and it has a greater effect on the low-income earners (Hirsh & Goldthorpe, 1978).

Inflation causes low-income earners to lose their spending power. Issues regarding resources acquisition arise and people resort to illegal means to acquire valuables they deem necessary.

Theoretically, regions in Canada with high numbers of youths are subjected to higher rates of crime. Hirschi & Gottfredson (1983) argue that reduction or addition of the offending cluster of youths from or to the population will directly impact the overall rate of crime in the society.

Unemployment and lack of income have contributed greatly to the high levels of crime. Low salaried people lack the power to compete for the limited consumer goods and services considered desirable to society (Daly, Wilson & Vasdev 2001). Unemployment can be a stressful situation especially for young males who have no other skills of making it in life. The only fallback option that they have is to get engaged in criminal activities. Therefore, employment reduces would be crimes by ensuring that the youth have a lawful and steady source of income and purchasing power.

Alcohol and substance abuse is another major cause of violent crime. The rate of domestic violence was high in homes with heavy drinkers (Johnson, 2001). Alcohol intake and substance abuse are not directly linked to crime in some cases; however, people use unlawful means to get the ingredients that make up the drugs (Chilvers & Weatherburn, 2003)

Canada is one of the first-world countries which boast to have one of the best systems in the world. Prisons act as a preventive mechanism for crimes. Crime levels decline when there are high levels of incarceration. In Canada, there is a major problem regarding how long prisoners are locked up behind bars. Canadian jail sentences are generally shorter. Shorter sentences mean that the criminals are released back to society, hence, the occurrence of repeated crimes appears.

Legislation

Legislations and or regulations have a great impact on crime in society. By making some of the social behaviors criminals, crime rates will decline. The firearms legislation, for example, reduced crimes that were firearm-related (Wintemute, 2000). The Canadian parliament enacted a bill that forbids the issue of the firearm to people who were considered to be unstable mentally. This bill was called Bill C-51. Later the bill was amended, making people acquire firearm certificates before they issue any weapon. In the period between 1995 and1998, further amendments were made to ensure that people who wanted to acquire weapons had to fulfill certain requirements; for instance, they had to ensure that they had no prior convictions or any other offenses regarding firearms. By the year 2004, each person holding a weapon in Canada had to ensure that, it was lawful to obtain it by the relevant authorities.

Once the firearms act was in place, the legislature had to ensure that they came up with regulations and laws that kept the groups in check that mostly used them. The Youth Criminal Justice Act was put in place to ensure that youngsters between the ages of 12 to 17 were accountable for crimes that they committed even though they were underage. Police are allowed to use non-court methods on youths who commit petty offenses like breaking or trespassing onto one’s property (Wallace, 2004).

It is very common all over the world to experience high levels of crime where the presence of the police is least felt. Locations with fewer police patrol on the streets end up having major crimes like rape, robbery, and murder happing. Criminals forge courage to commit crimes even in broad daylight, and soon the streets become run down by criminals who end up forming gangs and gang territories. (Eck & Maguire, 2000).

It has been noted that apart from regulations formed by the government. The social setup of Canada is also shaping attitudes of people towards positive developments and this has reduced the level of crime considerably. Much has been said about the causes of crime, but society has always distanced itself from blame. The truth is that society is to blame for some of the crimes committed in Canada and elsewhere in the world. If youngsters are brought up in homes with guns and reckless upbringing; they end up practicing what they see on television. The media plays a big role in shaping the behavior of people in society and most especially the younger generation. The human brain is made in such a way as to be curious enough to try out what it perceives. If a teenager is watching a movie and he or she sees another on TV walking into a store and buying beer using a fake identification; what comes to mind of the said teenager is to try and do the same thing. However, over the years there has been growing regard for social mechanisms which can be attributed to the growing levels of education consumption. (Felson, 1979). This has greatly influenced the social values that the Canadian community is trying to cultivate. Local bars no longer sell alcohol to underage children. Changing attitudes in society are boosting the positive shift. If the media follows suit and airs educative programs on their channels and adheres to the rating regulations of who should watch what and when; there will be an overall shift in crime rates in the generations that follow. The media is a powerful tool in society and if used in an untamed manner, society suffers.

Conclusion

Crime has been there in society, it will continue to be there; all we can do is to try to be on the right end of the rope. Family values should be taught to our children. No crime in society has ever had a happy ending. It is up to the Canadian people to shape their society.

Work Cited

  1. Chilvers, Margaret, and Weatherburn Don. “The impact of heroine dependence on long-term robbery trends.” Crime and Justice Bulletin 79 (2003). Sydney: New South Wales Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research.
  2. Daly, Medal M. & Saurabh Vasdev. “Income inequality and homicide in Canada and the United States.” Canadian Journal of Criminology 42 (2001): 219-236.
  3. Eck, David J. and Maguire Jeanne E. Have Changes in Policing Reduced Violent Crime? An Assessment of the Evidence. The Crime Drop in America. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2000.
  4. Felson, David. “Social change and crime rate trends: A routine activity approach.” American Sociology Review 44 (1979): 588-608.
  5. Gannon, Maire. “Crime comparisons between Canada and the United States” Juristat Vol. 21 no. 11. Statistics Canada, Catalogue 85-002 (2001): 3-25.
  6. Hirschi, Travis. & Don M. Gottfredson. “Age and explanation of crime.” American Journal of Sociology 89 (1983): 552-584.
  7. Hirsh, Fred. & Jonathan Goldthorpe. The Political Economy of Inflation. Cambridge, MA: Harvard, 1978.
  8. Johnson, Harold. “Contrasting views of alcohol in wife assault.” Journal of Interpersonal Violence 16 (2001): 54-72
  9. Wallace, Marnie. “Crime statistics in Canada, 2003” Juristat. Vol. 21 no. 11. Statistics Canada, Catalogue 85-002 (2004): 3-25.
  10. Wintemute, Garen. “Guns and gun violence.” The Drop in America. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2000.
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