That is a question on the minds of many and has been the subject of numerous studies and research. The simple straightforward answer across the board is a resounding YES; there is indeed a link between poverty and violence for youth. Especially as it pertains to minorities and those in the inner cities of places like Detroit, Chicago and New York. And when you combine that with the state of our economy and the shortage or disappearance of jobs here in America you have a recipe for disaster in the “urban centers” of the mainland as precious US jobs are shipped abroad.
When one lives in poverty – as many disadvantaged minority youth of today; there is a sense of hopelessness. When this sets in, the effected group will often turn to crime as a way to balance the scale of economic parity. This in turn leads to violence. That is due to some extent, to the fact that some disgruntled minority youth deal drugs and turn to other forms of disruptive behavior in order to survive in their “underground” economic environment. This often leads to turf wars, violence relative to unpaid drug debts and so on.
And even if one doesn’t resort to peddling drugs, there is the lure of joining street gangs, most of which are inherently prone to violence. Drive by shootings, muggings and fistfights are commonplace in cities like the above mentioned New York, Chicago and Detroit. And speaking of Detroit; if you want to see just how bad the situation can get consider how the city has declared bankruptcy; exacerbating an already volatile economic dilemma. Couple that with the fact that the Motor City already had a high crime rate to begin with.
Many violence minority youth are also faced with a harsh reality in terms of employment by virtue of a lack of vocational/educational skills and training. They go looking for jobs in an ever shrinking job market and find that not only do they have to compete with people who have been in the job market for years and were laid off or let go. But they also come to the realization that they are in competition for jobs with a huge group of undocumented immigrants as well, many of whom are willing to work for next to nothing compared to an American citizen.
So there you have it. Situations of poverty to begin with. Not much hope of getting a job of any kind. A whole neighborhood of others in the same boat and yes, you definitely have a link between poverty and violence for today’s youth. The lure of gangs, dealing drugs, no recreational or faith based outlets in any given community is a problem. The targeting of homes, individuals and businesses for theft and vandalism or disruptive behavior, to some, becomes a way of life.
Yes, poverty and violence are indeed linked together. The violence crime rate and unemployment in a community, invariably, will rise together. It is certainly the hope of almost every American that one day this won’t be the case, but for now it is definitely a sad reality and cause for concern. Whether one is directly affected by it or not. Unless the powers that be in law enforcement, government, elected officials, faith based community leaders, business owners, educators and concerned parents come together to resolve this matter it will continue to wreak havoc on the plight of urban centers of America.