Monday, 22 January 2007


Homicide rate soars says the Herald, and it certainly seems that way, doesn't it, even if that graph below from the Sensible Sentencing Trust website shows that the homicide rate has "levelled off," albeit at a disgracefully high level:Richard at Benzylpiperazine asks the very reasonable question: Something happened in 1983 with violent crime (and from 1986 to '88 with homicide) that seems to have made a permanent change -- what was that?
What happened in 1983 to precipitate the huge increase in violent offences? It wasn't "P" or party pills. It wasn't Rogernomics and it wasn't global warming. So what was responsible for the sudden surge in violent crime? I have no idea. Do you?
Any ideas? Any sensible ideas?

LINKS: What happened in 1983? - Benzylpiperazine
NZ Crime Statistics - Sensible Sentencing Trust

RELATED: Politics-NZ


  1. Here is a very loose theory for you. From around the mid-sixties more children were beginning to be kept by very young, unsupported mothers, particularly Maori. This trend was assisted by child welfare services and availability of financial support from the Social Welfare dept. The Maori children were born to the first wave of newly urbanised young women and the very important links to their whanau and especially kuia, kaumatua, koru and their values, were lost. Many of these kids became the hundreds of street kids of the early and mid eighties. They lived tough with little to lose. Talking to someone who was one of these kids, she reckons that each new generation wants to out-tough the last. Hence spiralling violence from the time you pinpoint.

  2. Lindsay has a good point. That and ever increasing statism is my guess.

  3. This does not parallel trends elsewhere. America expressed a drop in crime in almost every state throughout the 1990s so that now its homicide rate is considerably lower than the 1970s. This change has been attributed to many things but in Freakonomics it is suggested abortion is the cause. Less single mothers having children in poor environments reduces the amount of crime-prone individuals. Maybe the reverse is going on here?
    Questions need to be asked though - concerning every factor before an answer can be given. I wonder how much sentencing and the culture of punishment has changed since then.

  4. The US situation is multi-faceted but the high rate of incarceration is the leading contender for reduced crime. Some have challenged the Freakonomics theory based on the timeline and the reality that the abortions are more likely to be amongst the wealthier, better educated teens. The poorest continue with the pregnancies to go on welfare. Our abortion rate has climbed similarly to the US rate without a drop in crime so I tend not to buy it either.

  5. Can we plot a graph if the number of youths compared to the total population as well?

    Let's ignore the state or social change. Just assume that crime is associated with young people. We got the baby boom after World War II, they got their kids in the 60s, who got their kids in the 80s. Something like that.

  6. May I suggest your stoner friend is part of the problem - not the solution Peter?

    The Parole Board assesses violent offenders, who have usually been smoking crack and/or other violence inducing drugs or smoking marijuana in combination with drinking whisky, in a situation where they are not taking drugs. It then says these people don't pose any risk to society and puts them out on the street again where they get straight into drugs and knock someone off.

    Sure they are punished but that doesn't bring the murder victims back and doesn't change the system for the future.

    But drugs are a victimless crime right? You really have to have a look at your take on reality if you continue to want to eject yourself from it for fun Peter.

    If these are Objectivists give me dogs anyday for sure.


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