An alarming statistic splashed across the Internet the other day—violent crime is on the rise in the U.S. for the second straight year.
The stats show that homicides increased in eight of the country's largest cities: Chicago, Houston, Las Vegas, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Antonio, and San Diego. As a result, the murder rate in cities with populations of more than one million jumped 6.7 percent.
The FBI's Assistant Director, Ken Kaiser, was quoted by the Associated Press as saying, "Am I happy with the increase in violent crime? Absolutely not. I'd have to be a fool to say I was. But I would tell you I think (police) are working very hard out there."
In addition to the rise in the murder rate, the robbery rate jumped six percent. Burglaries are up, too.
The issue then, is not whether crime is getting worse, but why? And what can be done to reduce criminal activity around the nation?
It's interesting to note that the increase in violent crime was greatest in the West, where illegal immigration is also a major concern. While not every individual who crosses illegally into the U.S. is a potential criminal, it stands to reason that if we secure our borders we're less likely to be attacked on our streets by illegal immigrants who have no regard for our health, safety, and property.
But solving our illegal immigration problem represents only a single piece of the puzzle. We must also find a way to instill hope in young people who are desperate for a sense of belonging.
Take a look at Indianapolis, where the homicide rate increased by 30 percent. In 2005, the city recorded 108 murders. In 2006, the figure increased to 140. The mayor of Indianapolis attributed the rise in the murder rate, in part, to increased gang activity and youth violence.
This sad state of affairs really shouldn't surprise us. When kids grow up without fathers around…when they have little supervision…they'll naturally turn to their peers for support and solidarity. The gang becomes a family—albeit a dangerous, potentially deadly one. When teens see few options…when they literally can't envision a future for themselves…they develop a "What's the use?" attitude. They find violent outlets for their anger and we, as a nation, suffer for it.
I fully expect the latest crime statistics to trigger new calls for government spending. Far too many people believe that we can spend ourselves out of our current social and cultural mess. It would be great if we could bring down the crime rate just by throwing money at the matter, but I seriously doubt that can happen. I firmly believe that we could end up pumping millions of dollars into crime prevention programs, and we could still wind up with a mind-boggling murder rate.
The best remedy for what ails our nation is the traditional American family. Until a two-parent family becomes the norm again, I fear that violent crime and gang activity will be our constant companions.
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