Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Problem of Evil part II

The first and most important thing to remember is that violent crime is far less common than many people fear. I've already shown in the bigger gun argument that the odds of being a victim of a violent crime are less than half of one percent. What many people don't know is that only 3% of all crime results in injury. Violent crime is not the constant bogeyman that many people imagine, but it does occur, and we must try to understand why, if we wish to understand how to prevent it.

There is no single explanation for rape, assault, and murder. Any specific instance could have one factor or many, and there is no single theory for why these crimes are committed. Some common theories are anger, fear, and sadism.

Crimes committed as a result of deep rooted anger tend to be explosive and compulsive in nature. They may be brutal and violent, and may occur sporadically. Such a criminal may lash out, choosing his victim seemingly at random, and then behave for some time thereafter. But eventually he will lash out again when his anger reaches its boiling point.

Crimes committed as a manifestation of fear are the result of feelings of inadequacy on the part of the perpetrator. He or she feels weak and incapable of making themselves important or noticed. In these cases, the goal of the attack is to feel power over the victim. Often the criminal will only use enough violence to control the victim, and will demand that the victim validate them emotionally. Since this is inevitably a fiction unsatisfying, the criminal will offend again and again, thinking that their next victim will make them complete, often resulting in habitual behavior.

The final motivation is sadism. This criminal has so focused on their own aggression and violent tendencies that they have become sexualized. This criminal derives pleasure from the suffering of their victims and will often spend a significant amount of time planning the assault, which may become bizarre or ritualized. They will often attempt to extend the suffering of their victims so that they can take pleasure in their continued anguish, often culminating in the death of their victim.

All three of these motivations are the result of psychopathic behavior. Psychopathic behavior is the result of the interaction between genetic predisposition and environmental factors. While some genetic markers for psychopathic behavior will inevitably be passed from generation to generation, environmental factors, such as parental neglect, poverty, and a poor education can all be addressed by society, even in the absence of the state, thereby reducing incidences of psychopathy and by extension, violent crime.

A 1993 study found that nearly half of adult Americans are functionally illiterate. Another study by the Justice Department found that one fifth of high school graduates can't read their own diplomas. And while statistics show that slightly more than half of the of inmates in state prisons have a high school degree or its equivalent, only approximately 11% have any college education. And when a high school degree doesn't necessarily equate with literacy, it isn't exactly a sign of a good education.

A study performed by the Rand Corporation in 1996 showed that incentives to complete a high school education were among the most effective strategies to reduce crime rates, more than three times as successful as draconian “three strikes” laws. Even early education at the preschool level has proven effects on reducing adult and juvenile crime. In the Department of Justice's “Blueprints for Violence Prevention” they found significant evidence that training parents on proper parenting techniques, and encouraging the education of young people were important factors in preventing criminal behavior later in life.

But the government schools don't do a good job of either educating the young, or encouraging continued education. Studies have shown that private schools have almost twice the graduation rate as public schools when comparing students of similar income levels in the same area. Other studies have found that,

In the majority of cases, private schools are more effective than government schools, and more efficient as well given their lower expenditures. Academic achievement is usually significantly higher in private schools, holding student characteristics constant, and these gains are most often robust to controls for peer group effects when these are included. The earnings of private school graduates may be significantly higher as well, though the weight of evidence on this point is more limited.

Privately-managed schools tend to have better-maintained facilities and more orderly classrooms than government schools. This is true whether the private schools are government subsidized or not, but the difference appears to be largest between unsubsidized private schools and government schools.

The evidence is overwhelming that privatization of the schools leads to better education and higher rates of graduation. Since we have shown that education is a key element in reducing adult crime, it is clear that once again, the private sector is better equipped to address this issue.

I have addressed in previous posts how poverty would be drastically reduced in a stateless society by virtue of the increased value of currency and the removal of the drain of government taxation. We have now also seen how the state fails to properly educate its citizens, and how the private sector does a much better job. The final important factor is proper parenting.

Mistreatment of children doubles the chances of those children committing crime later in life. Additionally, approximately 20% of abused children grow up to become abusers themselves, leading to a repeating cycle of abuse, crime, and victimization. Helping parents to learn proper parenting techniques can reduce child neglect and juvenile crime by 50 to 60%. In Britain, the courts have begun ordering parents of delinquent children to attend parenting classes in order to reduce juvenile crime. The British government has done studies on crime prevention which they say have shown that parental education is “the most cost effective way to reduce crime.”

Many different organizations offer parenting education. A simple google search for “parenting classes” returns over one million results. Hospitals, churches, online courses, people have a wealth of resources to assist them in becoming better parents. Parents who fail to educate themselves can not blame a lack of opportunities. Instead, those most in need of education are the ones most likely to resist assistance.

So how could a stateless society encourage those parents most in need of education, and most likely to raise future offenders, to improve their parenting? One way would be through social censure. In a society owned entirely by free people, those who mistreat their children could face denial of basic services. Parents known to be guilty of neglect could face higher insurance premiums unless they enrolled in and completed education courses designed to reduce their high risk behavior. Since there is a proven connection between poor parenting and criminal behavior, all of society would have a vested personal interest in offering and promoting continuing education for all parents, not just those with a demonstrated history of neglect.

Having shown how a stateless society could holistically address crime prevention, we must finally address how it would handle those unavoidable instances of criminal behavior which would on occasion occur. How could a society, lacking the massive law enforcement apparatus of the state, protect the good from the bad and remove the true monsters from amongst the innocent?

How could it make you safe?

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