Opinions

A softer approach: Violence can only stop through social change

The number of knife crimes in England and Wales rose by 63 percent within the past four years, according to police statistics reported by The Wall Street Journal. London alone has seen 121 homicides so far this year, many of which were knife-inflicted.

There is not a clear-cut answer as to why London has seen a surge in violence. It is a multifaceted problem that does not have a single solution. Banning knives, however, is clearly not the answer to this growing issue.

Some of the explanations for the rise of stabbings in Britain include  gang members and drug trafficking disputes. Government cuts and the sharp decline of stop and search by police also contributed to the crime increase.

Others regard massive immigration and clashes between cultures as key factors of the increase, despite net immigration falling in 2017, according to The Guardian. However, rising inequality and poverty are always the main suspects in cases of violence.

Laws and bans alone cannot solve the issue of violence. According to The Wall Street Journal, the gun ban in the United Kingdom did lead to a decrease in shootings because access to guns became much more limited.

However, at the same time, there was an increase in stabbings. Those who are inclined to be violent will find a way to commit such actions. If a knife ban decreased stabbings in a similar fashion, then it seems that increased usage of other weapons or items would result in violent incidents.

But banning all blunt objects is out of the question. This would just leave people with no choice but to use their hands or whatever object they can get their hands on. People have also used cars to kill others, but nobody truly debated banning cars. Nobody should discuss banning knives either, as a potential ban on knives appears to be ineffective in eradicating violence.

Most of the violence across the world tends to happen in the inner cities, Chicago and London being the most evident to date. Yet, these are not completely impoverished cities.

There are affluent neighborhoods, as well as poverty-stricken ones, in both cities, so to write off poverty as the simple cause for violence seems like an oversimplification.

What is evident in both of these cities is relative poverty, which is not the same thing as absolute poverty. Relative poverty refers to “poverty in relation to the economic status of other members of the society,” according to UNESCO, whereas absolute poverty measures the amount of income needed to reach basic needs.

Income inequality in a given area is measured by what is known as the Gini coefficient. The higher the income inequality in a given area, the higher the rates of violence. It seems as if those stuck in a lower class have no way to attain social mobility besides turning to aggression.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the lack of opportunity, as stated by London Mayor Sadiq Khan, leads to an increase in violence.

If an individual cannot rise out of poverty by societal norms, then robbing someone who has more instantly places that person in a better position than before. Actions have a pattern and humans have a nature. Violence may not be an inherent part of human nature, but the desire to raise social status definitely is.

While there might not be a way to completely rid society of violence, if people had to focus on one thing on a societal level, it appears that tackling income inequality seems to be the most viable solution at driving these crime numbers down.

-Pat Sikora

Journalism 22

November 19, 2018

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Pat Sikora


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