Monday, January 05, 2004

Scientist at Work: On Crime as Science (a Neighbor at a Time) - NYT

Scientist at Work: On Crime as Science (a Neighbor at a Time)
...In a landmark 1997 paper that he wrote with colleagues in the journal Science, and in a subsequent study in The American Journal of Sociology, Dr. Earls reported that most major crimes were linked not to 'broken windows' but to two other neighborhood variables: concentrated poverty and what he calls, with an unfortunate instinct for the dry and off-putting language of social science, collective efficacy.

'If you got a crew to clean up the mess,' Dr. Earls said, 'it would last for two weeks and go back to where it was. The point of intervention is not to clean up the neighborhood, but to work on its collective efficacy. If you organized a community meeting in a local church or school, it's a chance for people to meet and solve problems.

'If one of the ideas that comes out of the meeting is for them to clean up the graffiti in the neighborhood, the benefit will be much longer lasting, and will probably impact the development of kids in that area. But it would be based on this community action.

Crime rates respond to community actions. I have no idea how well done this reasearch was, but I've never come close to publishing in Science. I doubt there've been many such studies published at that level. Lessons for Iraq too? The beauty of the results is they represent something that can be done, and something that both Rebublicans (Raptors) and Democrats (Losers) can agree upon.

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