II. General Perspectives on Education and Crime
Although the topic of education and crime may seem straightforward, there are many different viewpoints from which it can be examined. Researchers have studied this topic from many different perspectives. As a result of this research, several connections between education and crime have been introduced into the literature and are widely accepted. The following are a few of the empirically supported beliefs about the connections between education and crime:
- A person’s lack of education often increases the likelihood that he or she will become involved in crime and antisocial behavior. The opposite is considered true as well: The more education an individual has, the increased likelihood that he or she will live a crime-free life.
- The lack of educational attainment generally decreases one’s future employment opportunities because of increasing hiring standards in society, thus leading to possible criminal behavior for those individuals who cannot obtain viable employment.
- The lack of education and educational attainment generally limits one’s IQ, thus making him or her more vulnerable to others for exploitation and potential secondary criminal involvement.
- The more educated a community is, the less crime it experiences.
- The more educated a person is, the less he or she fears crime, and the less it significantly affects his or her life.
- It is generally believed that increases in one’s criminal behavior decrease his or her ability (and motivation) to complete higher levels of education (i.e., dropping out of school, getting expelled).
- History has demonstrated that increases in crime rates will almost always drain valuable resources from a community’s educational needs and require that those resources be directed toward crime control efforts.
- History has also shown that an increase in local neighborhood crime very often decreases the effectiveness of local schools’ educational programs and even student attendance.
- African Americans and Hispanics, overall, have less educational attainment than other racial groups. They also have a higher dropout rate than other racial groups. African Americans and Hispanics who drop out of school have a much higher rate of incarceration than those who do not. Research has empirically supported the theory that African Americans and Hispanics have higher rates of criminal behavior, and many scholars argue that there is a definite correlation between race and crime.
- On a practical level, one need only look at the fact that on days when school is in session, the level of property crime committed by juveniles decreases drastically.
Given these findings, it is difficult for many people to believe that, given that the United States has one of the highest incarceration rates in the industrialized world, its rate of spending on educational systems is among the lowest. Many consider this to be one of the major catalysts for the ongoing increases in delinquent and violent behavior in America.