Is poverty responsible for high crime rates?
...or is the lack of morals and values to blame?

A while back, Police Commissioner Johnson, of Philadelphia, stated that poverty is to blame for the increased crime rate in the city. Those who grew up in Philadelphia might disagree.

Many large families lived in Philadelphia during the 1960's and 1970's, some with as many as eight, nine, or ten children. Although the majority of children from these large families did not go hungry or wear rags to school, they also did not have the money to buy amenities that many children have today.

In some neighborhoods, many families did not own a car, a washer, or dryer, and used fans instead of air-conditioners. Most families only owned one television set. Regardless, crime rates in these neighborhoods did not climb to the alarming rates they do today in Philadelphia, or in any large city.

Kids back then did not commit crimes because they could not have money for ice cream every time the Mr. Softee truck's bell clanged. They also did not beat, injure, or kill other children because they did not have the expensive sneakers their friends had. They settled for the 'generic' brand and life went on. Many factors contribute to increased crime rates in any neighborhood or city. Lack of discipline at home is one of them.

Parents are responsible for the way their children view the world. Parents need to teach their children to obey laws, to respect others, and to teach them right from wrong. Parents fear harshly disciplining their children in today's world. This started with Dr. Benjamin Spock, who spoke out against punishing children.

Discipline in school is no longer in the hands of teachers, because parents complained about the way teachers handled their children when they misbehaved in school.

When there are limited means of discipline, added to teachers' fear of reprimanding children because of blowback from the parents, there is a change in a child's perception of what an 'authority figure' is. This chain of events has little or nothing to do with money.

Children challenge their parents, and students challenge their teachers. As young adults, they challenge law enforcement and bosses. They commit crimes because they have no fear of punishment, and no respect for authority figures.

Eventually these young adults grow into adults who commit violent crimes because they have no respect for human beings, no respect for the property of others, and, ultimately, no respect for themselves. Everyone needs to take a long, hard look at everything affecting the lives of children, with discipline being the top priority.

The city of Philadelphia needs casinos about as much as they need more liquor stores and more gun shops. City officials always promise money received from establishments such as casinos, to the schools, the poor, and the elderly. This looks nice on paper, but never sees the light of day. In addition, people spending and winning large amounts of cash will only create more violence, more theft, and more armed robbery, more of what the city does not need.

Obviously, whatever measures the city of Philadelphia has taken in the past couple of decades to curb violence in the streets has not worked. Blaming the poor in the city of Philadelphia is not helping to decrease the crime rate; it is only excusing the way our children behave today, which does them more harm than good. It also serves more as a hindrance in solving the problem.  

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