Crime is Rarely Predictable: What Happened to the Crime Waves?

Crime news from Crime in America.Net

There have been endless predictions of increasing future crime by criminologists and social observers since crime rates skyrocketed in the mid 1960’s. Name any major force within society and it’s often associated with dire predictions of increasing crime.

Rap music, drug use, employment rates, the number of younger people in society, the availability of guns and endless other examples are springboards for future crime according to some.

Trouble is, most never happened. Crime is not well understood by anyone but it’s rarely based on one or two factors alone. We could have rising unemployment and increasing percentages of the 15-25 years of age cohort (the most criminally active age group) but the predicted crime wave could be modified (or cancelled completely) by an increased use of incarceration or improved test scores in schools located in high-crime areas or the influence of religion.

The cited factors above are not as important as the knowledge that increasing crime rates are never inevitable based one or a limited number of factors. We have had record low numbers for crime in America (see and all this happened during times of good and bad employment, rising and falling numbers of younger people and endless other correlates (connections to crime).

An example of this is a Washington Post article offering an intriguing title: “Once written off, ‘crack babies’ have grown into success stories.” The article discusses the rather straight-forward assertions by some that babies born of crack-using mothers were once an epidemic and the resulting future crime wave would tax the very fiber of the criminal justice system.

Some excerpts from the article: “John Silber, then president of Boston University, spoke of “crack babies who won’t ever achieve the intellectual development to have consciousness of God.”

Theirs will be a life of certain suffering, of probable deviance, of permanent inferiority, Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer said in 1989.

They were written off even before they could talk. But in the two decades that have passed since crack dominated drug markets in the District and across the nation, these babies have grown into young adults who can tell their stories — and for the most part, they are tales of success.”


The article documents that the predicted crime wave of crack babies never happened and offers opinions as to why. Most importantly, it allows several who were born to mothers using crack cocaine to tell their own stories.

So the next time you hear of a social condition that some expert is using to make a point about future behavior, take it with a grain of salt. Social conditions are never that linear or that straight-forward or that simple.

We never know what the future will bring in terms of technology or social or religious influences. Society has a way of controlling misbehavior and this country has been through a series of high-crime periods only to be followed by reduced crime in the following decades.

Like the economy, society seems to have ways of finding a middle ground.

See for a related article.

See,9171,1963761,00.html for an article from Time Magazine.

Crime in America.Net staff.

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