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The rise of violent crime in canada

Violent crime in Canada is on the rise in Canada as well as the types of violent

crimes being committed against the public. It has been on the rise for many, many

years. I believe and intend to prove in the following essay that it is societies

responsibility for the rise of violent crime with their unwillingness and inability to

effectively deal with the current trend in our society. In the last few years, a slight dip

in violent crime has been noted, but we must view this with skepticism as no official

statistics are available. As well as this could be an example of society realizing that the

Criminal Justice System is not effectively dealing with the trend of violence in Canada.

This would be true by way of the fact that people are not reporting these crimes to the

police. Generally all the statistics that are gathered and used by the police are based

upon reported crime and no conjecture on unreported crime is included in these official


To fully understand what violent crime is, we must first define what violent

crime is in actuality. All to often, people in Canadian society refer to general

wrongdoing as being a crime. A simple example of this is when grocery stores all raise

their prices for certain food products. People then refer very casually to this act as a

crime or that these prices are criminal. Individuals in our Society often have a fear of

being victimized by others, such as the government, friends and or strangers. This fear

is often equated with crime since all crimes have a winner and a loser or victim as

would be the legal term. This equation often makes involvement in these acts of

"crime" a personal thing. Which results in stronger feelings and sometimes irrational

thinking towards the whole subject of crime. Many times people are not reporting

these crimes because it is their duty in a society to help uphold the laws of ones

society. In actuality, they are reporting the crime for needed compensation whether it

be for medical costs or lost wages. Another reason some people report crimes is

because they are doing it as an avenging act to extract a revenge they could not

otherwise get for themselves. This is a main reason in the fact that police officers need

to investigate reported crimes and determine if a crime had actually been committed or

not. The crimes which are considered to be violent crimes and which I am focusing on,

I shall list next. Any form of an assault on the person, ranging from sexual assault to

Aggravated assault. Robbery, Homicide, Attempted Homicide, and Manslaughter are

all considered violent crimes. These crimes are committed for a variety of reasons that

range from unbelievable to incredible. Some are done for fun, having no real reason at

all. Anger is a major reason for assaults being committed as well as Homicides.

Robbery of a store or mugging of an individual is another reason. As well as pure pre-meditated violence, whether it is a beating or a murder, people use violence to enforce

other things that are considered to be valued reasons for violence. In fact many sub-cultures of Canadian culture, such as gangs have developed differing views on crime

and see the act of assaulting another individual as a way of settling a dispute and/or

argument. A more technical definition would be as follows;

" a crime involves the violation of a norm. Norms are social rules ranging from

the important and the binding to the less important and optional. From which

society makes attempts and rules to regulate behaviour in society "

The Importance of the laws are measured by the level of punishments imposed upon

the offender and the sanctions in place against the law. An example of this is lying and

skipping class are considered to be minor infractions, where as murder is considered to

be one of the most atrocious acts that could be committed by a person.

Since the beginning of Canada, that is to say its formation as a dominion, there

has always been a crime rate for the population. Fluxations and statistics have been

recorded about the happenings of crime in Canadian culture. These statistics have long

been studied by Sociologists and other well known scholars. The crime rate of 1867

and 1987 are just as different as the cultures of the two different time periods are

different. But an interesting correlation has been noted with the crime rates of 1939-1938 and 1980-1988. But the rates of violent crime that this paper is focusing on are in

the recent years. In 1962 the crime rate in Canada was 221 incidents per 100,000

people which rose to 1099 per 100,000 people in 1991. The highest rate of violent

crime in Canada in 1991 was in the North West Territory and was at a rate of 6,294 per

100,000 people and the lowest rate was in Prince Edward Island at a rate of 786 per

100,000 people. When the statistics are given, one must wonder as well as to who is

making up the numbers. The factor of age shows that there is a sharp increase in

criminal behaviour during adolescence and the early twenties of a man's life. The rate

falls sharply after that and the following displays the rates;

12 - 24 : 20% of population -- Makeup 35% of violent crimes

45 and over : 32% of the population -- Makeup 10% of violent crime

20 - 34 : 25% of population -- Makeup 62% of inmates in correctional facilities

for violent crimes.

Another quality of these statistics is the factor of gender. The Canadian

population is roughly half and half for a ratio of men and womyn. Yet 85% - 90% of

arrests made by the law enforcement agencies are male and 97% of inmates in

correctional facilities are male as well. It must be noted that in recent years the rate of

womyn being arrested and convicted has also been rising.

Social class is another major factor in these statistics, where the greater quantity

of arrests and convictions for violent crime are individuals who fall in the lower class

part of our society. Yet if these statistics were to include all crime, the greater quantity

of arrests and convictions for crime would be of a much higher social standing in our


Cultural statistics show that it is probably not a genetic or biological factor that

causes individuals to commit violent crimes. It is shown that the rates of violent crime

differ around the world. Bigger countries than Canada having lower robbery and rape

rates than our country. If these acts were based upon biological factors than bigger

countries would have higher rates since there would be more people within those

biological zones that caused violent behaviour.

Another factor is economical in nature, the following statistics show the

correlation in a small way.

" Decade Decade Average Decade High

1980-88 40% 44.2%(1986)

1970-79 38% 41.3%(1973)

1960-69 37% 38.7%(1964)

1950-59 34% 36.0%(1959)

1940-49 29% 33.1%(1940)

1930-39 35% 43.1%(1933)

1920-29 26% 29.6%(1922)

1910-19 24% 26.6%(1910)

1900-09 24% 26.9%(1900)

1890-99 26% 27.9%(1898)

1880-89 26% 28.5%(1880)

1870-79 22% 28.7%(1879)

1867-69 25% 28.1%(1867)

If the years 1930-39 and 1980-88 are compared, it is found that there were momentous

stock crashes in both of those decades. The stock crash of 1929 was far greater than

that of 1988 but it proves that poor economic times result in higher rates of crime.

With individuals being more desperate and angry at the world and society they live in.

Perhaps even feeling let down by the society they work to build and create. Why

should they respect a society that is not doing what it is supposed to do for the

individual person in that society. The statistics shown prove that even thought there

have been slight dips and rises in the overall rate of violence, it has been on a gradual

increase and shows increases with poor economic times.

In the opening paragraph, it was asserted that it was on the shoulders of society

for the responsibility of these increases in violent crime. The following paragraphs are

the reasons that will prove my arguments. The forces of social control affect every

aspect of an individual in a society such as Canadian Society. That is, it is the attempt

that society makes to regulate behaviour of its citizens within that society. Some

examples of these society enforced roles are our status roles which place us into a

hierarchy that is given to us by society. Their are both positive and negative structures

and factors to enforce these laws rules created by the society. Positive being praise,

wealth and power for abiding by the laws of a given society. Negative enforcers are

disgrace, negative praise etc ... and other forms of deterrence that are created by

society. These levels of punishment equal the importance of the laws that they enforce

in the eyes of the society. Laws against criminal behaviour has the criminal justice

system in place to enforce and act as a form of social control.

"A formal system that responds to the alleged violations of laws using police, courts and punishments ..."

Therefore although society as a whole sees crime as a personal failure and a

choice of the individual to act upon. Society is the anvil on which ideas of good and

evil are wrought and the individuals are hammered into conformity with applied force

that is physical and personality shaping. This act is an integral part of becoming a

social organisation which is defining of its own nature.

Until recent years, there have been many sociological theories to try and explain

the appearance of violent crime in society. In 1876, Caesre Lombross put forth the

idea that stated that there were biological features that would allow to pick out

individuals that would be more prone to commit these acts of violence. He stated that

violent criminals have low foreheads, hairiness and long arms. He stated that criminals

were not as advanced in evolution as the rest of society. Later on in his career he

discarded his previous ideas of criminals having distinct physical features. He

accepted and put forth the idea that social factors hold great importance in the

formation of criminality. Even though he did this, for many years after his death

sociologists tried to prove his theories of biological factors being a great factor in the

development of criminal behaviour. Recently genetics have reinvoked these biological

causes of criminality with the idea that men with the extra Y chromosome are more

likely to be violent offenders than men without the extra chromosome. As of now, no

evidence has been produced to support this extra chromosome corresponding with the

increased likelihood of violent crime. Currently researchers have focused their

attention on the influences of social conditions and customs.

We have recently gone through a recession which has resulted in the

government having to cut their over expenditures resulting in a poor economic

situation. There have been major cuts on an already overwhelmed social safety system.

This has caused greater levels of unemployment, homelessness, anger and disparity.

This may be the cause for the rise in armed/robbery rates around Canada. It has been

shown that in the past when there have great economic hardships, the rate of violent

crime has increased as is with the present day.

Many of the reasons for the increase in social protection and laws has been that

it has been instituted to a higher degree in the Criminal Justice System. Tougher

sentences are being given out as the state fails in controlling the populace. This has

resulted in the system being overburdened resulting inadequate treatment of the alleged

offenders. With services such as legal aid being inadequate and available to only the

most dire cases. With these tougher sentences, people are in jail longer which has

resulted in an overcrowded prison system. The treatment of the prisoners cannot be

considered anything else but inhumane or putting rats into a confined cage. While

these people are in prison, there is nothing special for them to do. There is no

rehabilitation programs or set regiment for the prisoners to follow. Basically the

prisoners just sit around and do nothing except eat, sleep and get angry at the fact that

they have been imprisoned. They just put you into a confined space with a lot of other

individuals who are full of anger. Socially, these people are made to feel alienated with

all their personal rights being taken away from them. Including the right to go where

you please, any basic freedom is taken. This causes them to feel like outcasts in their

own societies who consider them to be failures. The state and atmosphere they are

kept in is one filled with violence and mistrust, and all that comes from violence is

more violence. Criminality is enforced in these institutions as each individual has to

follow a new set of customs and laws that exists as a sub-culture of Canadian culture.

The prisoners hate the outside society for forcing them to be locked up away from the

mainstream of the society they used to exist in. This causes anti - social behaviour to

arise from the prisoners as they assume the role society has given them which is the

idea that they cannot exist in the main society around them.

In the 1960's and 1970's, community based programs were being implemented

and used to try and rehabilitate criminals. It was also the first step towards greater

social control over the population. Yet the results were not satisfactory in the eyes of

the society, so the leaders of the criminal justice system opted out to take the easy way

and implement greater social protection methods. This was achieved by enforcing

longer sentences upon the offenders. This was done even though the community based

programs were working to some degree. No attempt was made to augment these

programs and increase their efficiency.

With all the pages of statistics gathered by the government, no attempt was

made to find out why the main percentage of offenders were male. The statistics show

that something is abnormal in the socialization of males that doesn't conform to the

ideals and norms of the society.

Instead of trying to help the population of prisoners and offenders, violence and

cruelty towards prisoners has only increased. Even though capital punishment has

been abolished, In the years 1980 to 1986, sixty-three prisoners were killed with legal

intervention. That is, they were killed by police or prison guards in the course of

their duties and by their actions which was deemed appropriate by the criminal justice


Between 1979 and 1988 seventy-seven prisoners died per year on average, of

which 33 per year were accepted as suicides. This shows that prison cannot be a

helpful thing to the personal well being of the prisoner as there wouldn't be that many

suicides if it was a helpful and rehabilitative course of action.

With the increase in the prison population, there has also been an increase in the

probationary population. When politicians speak of them as using probation as a

community based program, all they are doing is increasing the amount of government

repressive apparatus used to keep the society it leads down and controlled.

For as long as history books and records have been kept, there has been a crime

rate. The statistics show that the concept and utilization of prisons is not a viable

solution to the violent crime problem in our society. It has done nothing except allow

for the increase of the crime it is supposed to control and allow many deaths to arise

from these systems in place. They continue to repeat themselves as they did with the

two economic crashes of this century. Society has tried to lay the brunt of

responsibility on other factors which have been proved to be wrong and/or

inconclusive. This being the biological factor or the idea that it is a personal failure. If

society would accept the responsibility for what it has created, then perhaps a solution

could be found and implemented for the benefit of all in a society. Every few years,

society comes out with a new improved solution to the problems of violent crime. Yet

the question is never put forth with the idea of the inability to find a solution to a

problem is actually the greater problem that we have. Since the solution cannot be

properly found or instituted if the actual problem is not understood by the people trying

to implement their uninformed solutions. Some areas that could be covered with a new

study is how males are taught to deal with their emotions and problems. Social

upheavals have occurred in recent times and gender roles have been obscured causing

more problems with the continuity of society. Values and ideas are being taught to

new members of a society which are old and out dated methods. This could be a

causing factor into which violence is increasing. As frustration increases and a lack of

understanding of how to interact among different people in a society is gone, the

problems appear to be mounting and getting bigger everyday. The social methods of

control are falling behind and chaos is coming out as a leader in our society.


Fleming, Thomas. The New Crimonolgies in Canada. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1985.

Johnson, Holly. Violent Crime. Canadian Social Trends.

Larsen,Nick. The Candian Criminal Justice System. Toronto: Canadian Scholars Press Inc., 1995.

Macionis, John J.. Sociology. Scarborough, Ontario: Prentice-Hall Canada Inc., 1994

Roberts, Albert R.. Critical Issues in Crime and Justice. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications, 1994.

Siverman, Robert A., Teevan, James J.. Crime in Canadian Society. Toronto, Canada:

Butterworth and Co. Ltd., 1975.

Sociology 3209 YA

Social Change and Collective Behaviour

Essay on

The rise of violent crime in Canada

Gavin R. Hemeon

Student # 952 963 171

Source: Essay UK -

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