98 of 121 DOCUMENTS

	The Boston Globe

	December 30, 2000, Saturday ,THIRD EDITION

	JACK LEVIN Jack Levin is the Brudnick Professor of Sociology and
	Criminology and director of the Brudnick Center on Violence and
	Conflict at Northeastern University.; THE PATH WE CAN CHOOSE TO

	BYLINE: By Jack Levin


	LENGTH: 803 words

	For seven years, the national crime rate plummeted to a level not
	seen since the 1960s. But in the first half of 2000 national
	reports of rape and aggravated assault rose, while most other
	serious offenses leveled off. The Boston statistics were even less
	encouraging, as crime went up in almost every major category
	including murder, aggravated assault, and armed robbery. 
	Attempting to explain the end of an era, criminologists have
	suggested that we have already done almost everything humanly
	possible to make our cities safe. We have locked up millions of
	citizens, tried more children as adults (even those who commit
	property offenses), built community centers and recreational
	areas, increased after-school programs, provided more summer jobs,
	and sent armies of resource officers and volunteers into the
	We have cleaned the streets of guns, crack, and ugly graffiti.
	What more is there to be done?
	Actually, there are many poliies and programs that would easily
	make our crime rate plummet again, if only we had the collective
	will to try them. 
	Here's a partial list: 
	Outlaw all guns. We continue to lead the Western industrialized
	world when it comes to killing one another with firearms. Gun
	control measures - waiting periods, gun locks, background checks -
	might make some difference in the crime rate, but not much. If we
	outlaw guns, we wouldn't need any gun control policies. We would
	also see gun-related deaths plummet. Many Americans would agree,
	however, that we would also be destroying the essence of the
	Second Amendment, which gives us an important right to bear arms. 
	Eliminate poverty.  Since 1970, we have seen a gradual increase in
	income inequality and a shrinking middle-class. There are now
	simply more very rich and very poor Americans, with fewer in
	between. Bring back the welfare state, wage an effective war on
	poverty and you automatically reduce crime. 
	With prospects of a rising unemployment rate on the horizon, the
	effort becomes even more important to achieve. Many Americans
	would agree, however, that income inequality may be bad, but
	socialism is strictly un-American. 
	Equalize educational opportunities. The residents of European
	countries may not go to college, but they can at least read, write
	a grammatical sentence and add and subtract. The number of
	functionally illiterate Americans is unacceptably high.  Equalize
	the quality of education between the cities and suburbs, between
	rich and poor. Not only will you increase MCAS scores, but you
	will also reduce criminal behavior. Many Americans would agree,
	however, that even if wide educational disparities continue, local
	schools deserve to have local control by local residents. 
	Supervise all of our youngsters. Right now, 50 percent of our
	teenagers and children lack full-time parental supervision.
	Because of divorce, dual-career families, and impoverished single
	moms, we need to provide more after-school programs, day care, and
	community centers. We could theoretically also eliminate divorce
	and shorten the work week, giving parents more time to spend with
	their children. 
	Adult supervision is essential in reducing juvenile crime, and
	many of our youngsters simply do not have it.  They are therefore
	free to do whatever they want including the commission of assault,
	rape, and murder. Many Americans would agree, however, that
	parents too should be free to do whatever they want whether that
	means working full-time or legally breaking up with a spouse with
	whom they are not getting along.
	Realistically, Americans are not about to outlaw guns, eliminate
	all poverty, equalize educational opportunities, and see that all
	children are supervised. Such policies sound outrageous, radical,
	too extreme because they severely reduce our personal freedom to
	make personal decisions. And they certainly would require such
	drastic changes in our culture and social structure that we would
	be living in a vastly different kind of society. 
	And that is precisely why we should be pessimistic about further
	reducing crime. Based on maintaining effective reforms to the
	present system, the best we can hope for is to keep the crime rate
	where it is. 
	Moreover, under the impact of the president-elect's "compassionate
	conservatism," there is reason to see some backsliding as well. We
	can still make up the difference by increasing our involvement in
	the lives of our youngsters. The worst we can do now is to rest on
	our laurels. 
	It is not that we Americans are wedded to violence. But crime is
	an important symptom; it is the price we pay for our love affair
	with individual freedom.

	LOAD-DATE: December 31, 2000


	Copyright 2000 Globe Newspaper Company