Atlanta Crime Attributed to Youth Anticipation of Early Death

As a personal injury attorney, I strive to stay abreast of current medical news. While perusing Medical News Today over the weekend, I came across an interesting article about crime in Atlanta.

According to a study carried out by Georgia State University Criminal Justice experts Timothy Brezina and Volkan Topalli and economist Erdal Tekin, Atlanta crime may be due to anticipation of an early death.

"It turns out that if you boil it all down, the more you think you are going to die young, the more likely it is that you are going to engage in criminality and violence," Topalli explained. "This is the opposite of what most people think, because most people think that if you think you're going to die soon you become depressed and you wouldn't commit crimes."

The criminal justice study, published in the December issue of the journal Criminology, examined potential causes of youth crime in Atlanta. The researchers interviewed young criminals in Atlanta and asked about their anticipation of future injury and early death.

"Many had been shot or stabbed and bore visible scars of physical trauma," said Brezina said. "They also expressed what criminologists refer to as a ‘coercive’ worldview. In their eyes, they occupy a dog-eat-dog world where it is acceptable, if not necessary, to use force to intimidate others and to prevent victimization."

This attitude is captured in the name of the study: “Might not be a tomorrow.”

When young people believe that they don’t have much of a future, the researchers found, then they feel like they don’t have much to lose by committing crimes.

"They live in neighborhoods that are kind of like war zones," Topalli explained. "They grew up hearing gun shots, seeing people die and hearing ambulances and police cars. Just about every young person we talked to had seen a dead body, and either has fired a weapon or has been fired upon in some context. Over 70 percent of them have been victimized themselves, which is far greater than the larger population. The majority of them won't die early, but the illusion is that you will and it's reinforced by the culture."

Georgia State University has plans to establish a Center for Crime and Violence Prevention Policy to address violence and crime in Atlanta. Conventional approaches to crime fighting may not work for at-risk youth who feel that there might not be a tomorrow.

"It seems unlikely that threats of harsher criminal justice penalties will deter these fearless offenders. They assume life is short anyway and willingly accept the risks associated with a criminal lifestyle. Even death," said Brezina. "An alternative approach is to confront the pervasive violence and other social ills that so many inner-city children confront in their daily lives - conditions that deflate hope and breed crime in the first place."

I look forward to seeing more studies from the criminology experts at Georgia State University, and I applaud the establishment of the Center for Crime and Violence Prevention Policy in Atlanta.

If you’ve been inured by a violent crime in Atlanta, contact an Atlanta violent crime victim lawyer immediately. You may be entitled to compensation. Contact MLN Law at 404-531-9700 to schedule a free consultation.