Poverty is the deprivation of resources and necessities needed for living. The income considered necessary to meet needs determines the poverty line. Anyone living under the poverty line is considered to be poor or on the brink of being poor. About one in every eight Americans are impoverished. Many children are facing the hardships of living in low-income households. Living in poverty has affected a child’s ability to perform in school and an unwillingness to attend school. A major factor that restricts children in poverty is the amount of stress they receive from their living situations, poor nutrition, and other problems that can affect a child’s physical and cognitive development. These conditions have decreased the amount of opportunities and any expectations for a brighter future; crime unfortunately will always exist, but it shouldn’t be a person’s solution to their inability to provide for themselves.
In America, poverty is often seen as an urban issue, especially with the higher crime rates that are associated with lower income living in urban areas. “The only problem is that 17% of suburban or rural households are living in poverty today, compared to 15% of urban households living in poverty,” (Lombardo). There is a thin line between the amount of people living in poverty in rural or urban areas. However, poverty and crime in urban areas seems to be more prevalent than in rural cities. The association between lower income households and crime sets people in poverty up with an expectation or lack of, for themselves as they develop. Therefore, regardless of the environment everyone is being affected by poverty, and yet the higher crime rate is always in the same conversation as urban- lower income areas. “Childhood poverty is not randomly distributed across the population. Children of color are nearly three times as likely to live in a poor family compared to white children. Around one in three black, Hispanic, and Native-American children live below the poverty line, compared to just over one in ten white children,” (2018, February 05). Regardless, of race being a factor in who and who does not live in poverty it is clear how far back poverty runs back in our history alone.
When poverty is taken into a broader sense to include the limitations that are set on children or even adults in general, only then we see how poverty plays a vital role in the formation of our developmental skills and success in life. Poverty should not be a predetermined factor into failure for the future for these individuals. The relation between poverty and crime is evident because of a need to sustain oneself or family. “There will always be crime, but urban crime tends to always be located in high poverty areas,” (Lombardo). As Crystal Lombardo states there will always be crime, but urban crime is typically associated with being in high poverty areas.
However, poverty’s effect on crime needs to be considered along with other influences in a person’s life such as environment or a previous history with violence and crime in their childhood. A person living in poverty may never commit a crime. Although, it is evident that a person living in poverty may be more inclined to commit crimes considering that crime rates in impoverished areas are higher than in areas not affected by poverty. Poverty itself may be a factor in the crime rate but it is unfair to assume that there are no other causes leading people to commit crimes. The inability to meet the needs of yourself or your family adds the pressure of living in the material driven society that we live in. Social normality’s we have in America include having what’s new, fast, and most of the time what’s expensive. Apple products alone dominate the world; every September everyone is lining up to get their new iPhone XYZ and yet people are less concerned about what’s truly important. People are in need and it’s one thing to reflect or to pity people but when are people going to acknowledge the harmful effects poverty is having on our country?
“Some 41 percent (29.8 million) of America’s children were living on the brink of poverty in 2016 — including more than 5 million infants and toddlers under age three,” (2018, February 05). Our youth is our future and it is a shame that children who could be our very next doctors, lawyers, engineers, or athletes are held back from their full potential. There needs to be a reformation in our world that tackles poverty and aids us into a new beginning for those who are less fortunate. There are several effects that make it impossible for a child to receive a basic education which leads to not graduating and making poor decisions. Impoverished children are abandoned to repeat the same cycles that they were born into.
Stress is the found to be the source of many problems like: fatigue, migraine, insomnia, nervousness, anxiety, and the list is endless. To put yourself in the perspective of a child living in poverty is an entirely different world. A child’s traits are typically developed from the ages of one to four; growing up in an environment filled with stress triggers governs the child’s perspective and deteriorates their innocence. The sad truth of being in a situation like this is poverty leaves people behind, meaning that the access impoverished people have is so limited it prevents them from transcending pass their own stereotypes. “Poverty limits the chances of educational attainment, and at the same time, educational attainment is one of the prime mechanisms for escaping poverty,” (Eagle and Black). It is difficult enough to try to escape poverty but given the circumstances it makes poverty seem inevitable.
Committing a criminal act will never be justified by any means necessary, but you have to sustain yourself by any means necessary. People are constantly doing what is right by them for them and it becomes less of a selfish act when you are in a tight spot. “Despite increases in poverty, data released by the National Juvenile Justice Network shows that youth arrests for violent crime are falling, following a 20-year pattern of reduction for robbery, aggravated assault, and similar crime,” (Lombardo). The pressures of poverty clearly effect the youth into making a bad decision using their lack of judgement that is corrupted by only knowing struggle and choosing an easy fix to a hard life.
There are many factors that invalidate the association of poverty and crime to each other. Stating that poverty causes crime would generalize that everyone who is impoverished does or will commit crimes. However, as stated prior people who are living in poverty are inclined to committing crimes; so, would that mean that criminal activity is an effect of the conditions that people are subjected to? There are many theories as to what poverty leads to and what influences poverty.
Henry McKay and Clifford R. Shaw. were the ones to put together the social disorganization theory. Which argued that residents in high poverty neighborhoods are likely to move to another location if given the chance to do. With this considered it is clear why lower income neighborhoods decay or get gentrified over the years, the people in the community do not wish to revive the towns. Unemployment in a city is a factor for a failing environment which usually turns households into shambles. Typical American culture is a desire for power, wealth, education, and materialism. With that in mind it is clear that those in a lower-class struggle to meet those typical goals. The strain theory explains that if there is a condition of normlessness in a society, the effect is a lack in the usual social or ethical standards for a group or an individual. Emile Durkhiem, the discoverer of the anomie theory also states that individuals in a lower class may develop criminal tendencies in order to meet the goals that are accepted by society. Another theory in relation to the previous theories is the social structure theory. This theory narrates that lower class in its entirety has their own values aside from other social classes. These theories suggest that being in the lower-class social class makes you more inclined to commit crimes because of the social norm and need to conform to what is seen as right or impressive, however, the third theory would consider the lower class as a completely different set of rules and goals.
Recently, crime rates have been lower but violence is still prevalent in today’s society. Crimes happen in places that are socio-economically struggling. Then there is a debate of whether or not violent crime is associated with environments that are impoverished. Poverty takes a toll on a person’s mental state it can make you desperate and cloud their judgement into believing that a crime will help get out of this situation to “get rich quick”. “Many people living in poverty do not want to be living in poverty. In order to obtain a higher level of socioeconomic status, crime is seen as the only option.” (Wilson, 1987). The main source of crime itself would be greed and power. This fuels an impoverished person into committing the crime. For example, in a neighborhood where possessions determine worth it’ll coerce impressionable kids into believing that in order to have worth they need material items. Especially, when crime is glorified our culture through music which is speaking directly to impressionable young minds; there are so many songs in the hip hop genre in particular that voice having possessions and doing drugs are what makes them live better than others. This encourages criminal behavior by showing kids that if you material items it’ll make your life better and in order to conform to our society’s idea of what goal we should have for ourselves.
Currently, it is getting hard to find a good job that could support an individual and their family; crime seems to be the best option when there’s not that much room to breathe financially. There is no stability in an impoverished city. Communities are falling apart losing smaller business and facing mass unemployment. Individuals living in poverty commonly have low education rates, so finding a job that pays well to support a comfortable lifestyle can be difficult.
There is a cycle that keeps impoverished people in the position that they’re in. The start of it is being born into an impoverished family. These leads a family back instead of ahead of the game which follows by a life of playing catch up. Growing up poor and having limited access to resources makes it difficult to reinvent oneself by the time they’re an adult. Being impoverished and doing poorly in school go hand and hand. The cause for more than one third of recent high school dropouts is living in poverty. So, it starts with being born into it, then leads to academic failure, which now in today’s society it’s difficult enough to find a well-paying with a diploma alone; not finishing high school could destroy any possibility of escaping poverty. Then the person that grew up in the cycle eventually will have a family and the cycle repeats from birth until they’re adults doing the same thing their parents have done. Being in this cycle would make crime seem more appealing considering it is so complicated to get out of their current situation with a lack of education and resources. Families are broken as a result of criminal behavior and it causes the domino effect in this cycle. Many people have explored the effects poverty has on crimes and the correlation between the two, although, it is clear that we are in desperate need of revitalization in our country but truly the world because poverty effects everyone.
Considering that poverty is the result of several causes it would be nonsensical not to search for way to seize poverty or at least make it less extreme for those who are living in poverty so that they would not have to turn to a life of crime and risk being put in jail just to sustain themselves. The various causes of poverty include: no access to jobs, oppression, social inequalities, and poor education these are just some of the many causes of poverty. In order to solve these issues, we need to address employment and the cost of living in America inflation has made it hard to live on a minimum wage biweekly paycheck and it is clear that people are barely getting by. Other than finances the cycle starts with our children. There needs to be more accessibility for those living in poverty to allow them to equal opportunities to break out of poverty. Education is an outlet for people to progress further in life so it should not have to be a luxury to some people, but available to all people. The programs that currently exist need to be strengthened such as food stamps and cash assistance. There are so many ways this problem could be addressed and we need action.
Poverty is more than a lack of resources. It is a complex issue that can cause people to think irrationally to alleviate the struggles of not having enough to provide for basic needs. Most of the time basic needs for those who are not impoverished are luxuries for those who are less fortunate. Living in poverty at a young age transitions into adult life and creates a vicious cycle that is never ending unless there is an exit ticket of opportunity. It is clear that American culture is built of capitalism and accomplishing the “American Dream,” however, that becomes less and less attainable for those who live in high poverty situations. With these odds it makes committing a crime more appealing than we could ever think; these conditions stump the ability to be successful. Crime unfortunately will always exist, but it shouldn’t be a person’s solution to their inability to provide for themselves, therefore, the people of this world who are well off or at least doing better than those who aren’t should search for ways to solve this complicated conundrum.