Editorial: The blame game for our higher crime rates

Amidst growing crime rates, APD patrol the streets of Atlanta . Photo by Vanessa Johnson | The Signal

According to a recent FBI report released on crime rates, Atlanta scored higher in homicide, aggravated assault, and larceny, compared to 2015, read the story on page 6.

The Atlanta Police Department (APD) has been rolling out a couple of programs all at once, some of new city initiatives, to combat this jump in crime, aiming to “engage people,” particularly, the youth.

But is that what the city needs?

Analyses of the increased crime stats show that they mostly come from very specific zip codes and areas of town, which are correlated with people living below the poverty level. Isn’t that what we should be addressing? Maybe it’s not the police department’s responsibility to catch up with crime, but the city’s to prevent it, by making sure all neighborhoods get good living circumstances and young children aren’t forced into violent activities to support the only lifestyle they’ve known.

Georgia State professors Donald Reitzes and Dean Babney both told The Signal these behaviors of increased violence from younger ages is because that’s how they learn to survive in those areas. The people they surround themselves with aren’t looking for jobs, many didn’t attend college, and soon, a violent environment is all they ever knew. So can you blame them?

Where are they going to find the money for college? Or the motivation, when no one from their family or friends has been to or is considering college, dropping out of high school, and involved in gang activities? It’s unquestionably the city’s obligation to take that youth into consideration, create opportunities for them, and partner up with APD to kick off programs which will aid younger populations to follow a different path in life.

Have individuals come out to those neighborhoods and show the other side, let a lot of these youngsters know that there’s another option. Maybe the older adults don’t want a different life, but when you’re 10, or 12, or 15 years old, you’re owed the opportunity to see all your options.

Why are we ignoring the minimum wage neighborhoods? And briefly, reflect on them when our crime stats shoot up and then blame them for that? Is it their fault?

Maybe the next 14-year-old picking up a gun would thrive in Georgia State, Georgia Tech or the University of Georgia as a student. Maybe the high schools lack in preparing them, but the city can intervene with that (with other ways than the Opportunity School District program), have speakers come in – simple things might get to them. Organize college fairs, college field trips for juniors and seniors, set up college-prep days, and make them aware of their loan and scholarship options.

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