The single most significant root cause is not guns or crummy housing or racism or inadequate policing or lenient sentencing or lack of jobs or insufficient social programs. It is family and community breakdown. Most especially, it’s absent fathers.
Family disintegration is not a racial problem. It is an underclass problem. The evidence is plain that children born to unmarried women – of whatever race – do much worse than children with two married parents. They’re less likely to succeed in school and more likely to turn to violence (boys) and promiscuity (girls). The easiest way for them to feel like someone is to grab a gun or have a baby.
We have a million euphemisms for what’s gone wrong in our so-called “priority” neighbourhoods, a splendidly euphemistic term that has replaced “at-risk,” “disadvantaged,” “underprivileged” and “poor.” By now, it should be obvious that material poverty is not the problem – not when every kid in a priority neighbourhood has a cellphone and a flat-screen TV. Their poverty is of a different, more corrosive kind: a poverty of expectations, role models, structure, consistency, discipline and support.
Many of the commenters object to the notion that family breakdown is at the root of the problem.
Not every child who grows up in a single-parent family grows up to be a criminal. Far from it.
But it has been shown, time and again, that if you grow up in a two-parent family, the chances of you adopting deviant behaviour are much reduced.
I will also go one step further and say one of the reasons why this happens is that people think that sexual activity only within marriage is some kind of religious nutjob stance.
If you waint until marriage until you have sexual activity, and you have kids, your kids are more likely to grow up socially functional even if you are poor. That is among the reasons why major religions of the world prohibit sex before marriage: because it's best for the children.
But nobody wants to look at that elephant in the room.