Is Crime out of Control?

▪ A deranged student, armed to the teeth, slaughters fellow students and teachers at his school.

▪ A little girl is abducted, causing her parents untold anguish.

▪ A teenager confesses to having murdered someone just for the thrill of it and to having shown the corpse to friends who kept the secret for weeks.

▪ Using the internet, a sexual predator exchanges tips with other pedophiles on how to seduce children.

THESE are just some of the shocking crimes making the news nowadays. Do you feel safe in your neighborhood, especially at night? Have you or your family been affected by crime? Millions of people worldwide​—even in countries once considered relatively safe—​admit to having a haunting fear of crime and violence. Consider the following snapshots from various lands.

JAPAN: Asia Times reports: “Once Japan was among the safest countries in the world . . . Now, however, the once-cherished sense of personal safety appears antiquated, and national security has been supplanted by deep anxiety about crime and global terrorism.”

LATIN AMERICA: Prominent figures in Brazil are predicting urban guerrilla war in São Paulo, says a 2006 news report. Because of weeks of sporadic violence, the country’s president urged an immediate deployment of the army onto the city’s streets. In Central America and Mexico, “the presence of at least 50,000 juvenile gang members has the authorities of the region on the alert,” says a report in the newspaper Tiempos del Mundo. “In the year 2005 alone,” the paper adds, “about 15,000 people died at the hands of juvenile gangs in El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala.”

CANADA: “Crime experts point to an alarming increase in gangs,” said USA Today in 2006. “Police . . . identified 73 street gangs operating in Toronto.” According to the same source, the Toronto police chief admitted that there is no simple solution to the growing culture of urban gangsterism.

SOUTH AFRICA: Patrick Burton, a crime researcher, states in the Financial Mail: “Fear of crime permeates every aspect of young South Africans’ lives.” This includes “violent crimes such as aggravated robberies, hijacking and bank heists,” says the paper.

FRANCE: Many residents of housing estates, or housing developments, endure daily terror as “they climb staircases that have been vandalised, enter car parks that have become no-go areas,  and use public transport that is dangerous after dark.”​—Guardian Weekly.

UNITED STATES: Organized gangs are adding to the crime wave. According to a report in The New York Times, in one particular state, a police survey reported that nearly 17,000 youths, male and female, belong to one of some 700 gangs. This is an increase of about 10,000 members in just four years.

BRITAIN: In regard to a UNICEF report about the state of children and crime, The Times of London noted: “Increasing numbers of young Britons are dying at the point of a gun. . . . Victims and perpetrators of gun crime are getting younger and younger.” The prison population in England and Wales has ballooned to almost 80,000.

KENYA: A mother and daughter who did not exit their vehicle fast enough were shot by carjackers alongside a busy highway, says a news report. Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, has become notorious for all kinds of crime, including carjackings, muggings, and violent home invasions.

Is crime racing out of control? What is the underlying cause of crime? And is there a basis for hope that one day people will be able to live in true peace and security? The following articles will examine these questions.