Rising Violence in America

 Violence in America has risen steadily since 1960. With the exception of a brief dip in the early 1980s, per capita crime escalated from a level of 161 per 100,000 in 1960 to 758 per 100,000 in 1992--an increase of some 371 percent (U.S. News & World Report, 1994). The annual number of homicides, in particular, broached the 20,000 mark in the mid-1970s, and climbed steadily, with only one annual decrease, reaching 23,040 in 1980. Following a brief decline, the numbers have once again increased each year since 1985, and hit 23,760 in 1992, the latest year for which statistics are available, but a new record was probably set in 1993 (USN&WR, 1994).

The figures roughly parallel those for the increases in property crimes (1726 per 100,000 in 1960 to 4903 per 100,000 in 1992), the gun supply (54,000,000 in 1950 to over 200,000,000 in 1990), and the number of out-of-wedlock births (approximately 11 percent of all births in 1970, and nearly 30 percent in 1992), to which the escalating level of violence has been closely linked (USN&WR, 1994). Over the course of the past generation, the nation has seen the development of several anti-crime "seasons" during which "the public's preoccupation with crime rose as citizens' concerns about the economy subsided--and then waned as economic issues regained center stage" (Gest, 1994). The current interest level in dealing with crime, especially violent crime and offenders, spurred in part by "periodic media orgies of crime coverage" i



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