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Schools as Generators of Crime: Routine Activities and the Sociology of Place

NCJ Number
Date Published
152 pages
This study examined the effects of social disorganization and opportunities on local violent crime rates.
Using school settings as the location for the study, the author sought to merge social disorganization theories with opportunity theories to examine the contribution of routine activities on block-level violence. Neighborhood violent crime is explained through an examination of the risk associated with the physical space or setting of neighborhood schools, the presence of surveillance or guardianship, and the potential for motivated offenders to be present. Block-level violence was examined across all census blocks in Prince George’s County, MD. Dummy variables were used to characterize schools as either high or low with regard to the level of guardianship and school resources and the social milieu. In the analysis of the data, the author created a geographic information system that attributed all the violent crime data to census blocks. Instrumental variable regression was also used to estimate special lag models of violent crime. Results indicated that social disorganization and routine activities influenced block-level violent crime rates. Schools as a social milieu for violence was supported by the data. During the after-school period, blocks near schools that were categorized by resource deprivation experienced higher rates of violence than blocks near schools with more resources. Violent crime was also higher during the morning commute time near schools characterized as disorderly; this trend was not experienced in the blocks near schools characterized as orderly. The author concludes that the data supports the integration of social disorganization theories and opportunity theories. References

Date Published: January 1, 2002