The Effect of Education on Violent Crime

Youth Shelters

Many major cities in the U.S., including Chicago, Philadelphia, and Cincinnati, suffer from high incidents of violent crime, notably murders. The murder rate in Washington, DC has been on the rise since 2012, a trend that is set to continue this year. This increase in violent crime in major cities across the country has concerned criminologists and highlighted the necessity of looking beyond the commonly-cited causes of poverty, gangs, and guns.

Another recent trend has seen higher murder rates in the poorest neighborhoods, areas traditionally occupied by African Americans and other racial minorities. While this is concerning in itself and draws attention to the effect of race on poverty and crime in the United States, this statistic alone does not offer a solution. The true concern lies in the substandard education of America's urban youth.

Organizations such as Children of the City in the Brooklyn neighborhood of New York City have taken it upon themselves to repair their communities by addressing the underlying problem of poor education. In the poorest parts of the country, breaking the cycle of poverty requires the reinstallation of hope in families struggling to make ends meet. Education offers the easiest pathway out of poverty and the culture of crime that plagues our cities.

For decades, volunteers with charitable organizations have been working to sever the link between poverty and crime by providing children and their families with a quality education. Projects such as after school and summer programs, in-home counseling, and youth mentoring can make a significant difference in the lives of children who see no way out of the poverty they have known their entire lives. Programs aimed at parents can also offer hope to families that have long been discouraged from seeking help.

The best evidence in support of this strategy is that it works. Children graduating from these programs excel in their coursework, reading at or above grade level and mastering the basic skills needed to succeed. Children from abusive families have found new and supportive homes, and many program participants have gone on to lead youth programs themselves. Above all, these programs have deterred children from drug abuse and gangs, directly impacting the number of violent criminals on the streets.

The problem of violent crime is far from over, as crime statistics and murder rates continue to indicate. However, programs and organizations across the country have taken meaningful steps toward solving the problem through initiatives in education and the welfare of the child.

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