Custom «Myths and Realities of Crime» Sample Essay
Crime has existed for as long as human beings have been in this world. There are two types of crime, namely property and violent criminal activities (Ungar, 2013). Society views crime as a behavior that goes against the set standards of living and is punishable by the payment of fines or imprisonment.
According to the video named Crime and Evidence: A Sociological Inquiry (2010), most people focus on street criminals and are more concerned about them. Imagining 100 strangers and asking them to describe a criminal, their description will differ in several aspects. First, it will depend on person’s environment within which he or she lives, one’s job, everyday activities and possibly the level of education. The type, nature and number of people the individual interacts with will also determine focus on a certain type of a criminal. People’s description of crime can be influenced by what is presented to them in the media and other forms of systems, through which they receive information and communicate. Descriptions are more likely to focus on street criminals, and most people will choose this category because they can come across this form of crime in their everyday life. Street crime is one of the most common criminal activities often broadcasted by the media, and people are so familiar with it being common victims of street criminals.
Society defines crime mainly as something that is unlawful and is against the common will of people. The extent to which an incident is illegal still depends on those involved and the receiving audience. People living on the backstreets and in slums in urban poor areas will define crime as an event when a person has been robbed or killed or a motorist has been hijacked. To them, a crime is an occurrence that has a direct impact on the life or freedom of another person. When the latter is physically harmed, or his or her property has been stolen, destroyed or interfered with, then it is a crime to them. In other contexts, criminal activities imply breaking into other person’s space intentionally or unintentionally, especially in reserved neighborhoods where people live in gated communities (Chan & Chan, 2012). Several aspects and forms of crime are often overlooked when society generally defines it. Crimes committed by high-ranking and affluent members of society like politicians involved in corrupt deals and businessmen engaging in fraud and money laundering are often not paid enough attention. In addition, other forms of crime do not involve physical touch like the ones where criminals use technological appliances, such as cybercrime and social media abuse.
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The way in which society defines and interprets crime is mainly influenced by how it is presented in the media. The latter often portray crime differently from it is reported or experienced by the victim. The media usually put focus on the alarming or dramatic aspects of incidents in the process of trying to make the viewer stunned. Crimes elicited in news are often a small percentage of unlawful acts committed, and in fact, most of them are related to violence (Chan & Chan, 2012). Society is always pushed to view crime as dramatic and compelling incidents, which are often devastating and severe. Ways in which crimes are presented in the media give public viewers the feeling of being superior and enables them to find comfort when criminals are reprimanded. The perspective of news reports defines how society and the public will define and perceive crime (Dowler, 2013).
Society decides what to define as a crime following several aspects of the incidents committed and the way they are handled. The public can decide what makes up a criminal act and what is not. It depends on the laws governing it. State, federal and local laws are systems used to define crime. In the United States, federal laws are passed by the Congress and apply to every member state. In some cases, when one legal system collides with the other, federal laws remain superior. State laws are approved by legislators or lawmakers (Hart, 2012). They and the way they describe crime may differ from one state to another, and the way society will define crime will differ as well. The manner in which an incident is handled by the authorities and the law is enforced can influence whether people will define the case as a crime or not. One incident may be a crime to one part of society, while others may perceive it is not such.
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For example, burglary is clearly a crime because this incident is against the statement of the law and infringes other person’s property rights. The victim is affected by it since his or her property has been either taken away or destroyed in the process of the occurrence of the incident. It is absolutely clear and general knowledge that burglary is a crime, and each person will react to it in a similar way hearing about or facing such an incident (Hart, 2012). The accuracy of this statement can be illustrated because this form of crime appears to be obvious. Other types of unlawful activities are viewed differently depending on the audience and the place of occurrence. As for this example, the definition and perception may be similar across the board.
A widely held myth or misconception about crime and society is that a violent criminal case happens only to certain groups of people (Hart, 2012). Individuals always tend to believe that violent crimes are common among people from the lower class of society, the ones who live in places accessible to the public like slum dwellers. It is thought that reach and high-ranking members of society who live in gated and posh homes are free from violent crimes since they can afford personal security and protection. The fact is that anyone can be a victim of crime and violent criminal activities can occur anywhere even within gated communities. What is lacking is the knowledge of a person intending to commit a crime.
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