Friday, February 03, 2006


  • Urbanisation

  • Essay: Rapid urbanization is causing crime levels to increase.  Give some suggestions to control this trend.


  • Introduction: The urban background to criminal activity

  • What is urbanization?

  • Effects of increases in urbanization
1) Overcrowding

  • The case of Sao Paulo, Brazil

  • The case of  ‘commuter villages’ in UK.
2) Crime
      i) Crime in Hong Kong

  • Priorities in urban areas

  • Primary causes of criminal activity

  1. Priorities in rural areas: giving people a chance by improving life and lessening the appeal of the city.

G.  Breaking the link between urbanization and criminal activity

  1. Conclusion

  1. Introduction; The urban background to criminal activity

The world we live in is changing: the effects of globalization – the urbanization of Less Economically Developed Countries (LEDCs) – is being felt in ways that are not always beneficial.  The splitting and separating of communities and the isolating of the individual within huge, new, urban conurbations has led to increases in crime that are unacceptable in civilized, democratic societies.

  • What is urbanization?

Urbanization is the increase in the proportion of people living in towns and cities. [1] In many countries, this increase is due to the migration of people from rural areas to towns and cities.  In any migration that is not forced by mandate, what are known as push-factors and pull-factors exert influence over those moving to the city.  Included in the so-called push-factors are things like extreme poverty, desertification and general environmental degradation, which make farming more and more difficult, ethnic pressure, and lack of resources and facilities in rural areas.

Pull-factors include the attractions of full time employment; better living conditions; more facilities such as schools, hospitals and clinics; increased security; and opportunities that are perceived to be present in urban areas but absent in rural ones.

Finally, there are factors that are neutral and regardless of push or pull-factors. Decreasing death rates and increases in the birth rate of a country, or a city contribute to increases in population in urban areas. [1] Population growth in rural areas often forces people into cities.

  • Effects of increases in urbanization

1. Overcrowding

Since most migration to towns and cities in Less Economically Developed Countries (LDCs) is unplanned, a large proportion of those coming to live and work in cities have no accommodation arranged beforehand and furthermore, often cannot afford it, if it is available.  Such people, invariably poor people, are therefore forced to build some sort of shelter to protect their families, and since local authorities have no way of knowing how many people need to be housed, they are not in any position to be able to provide even temporary accommodation for newly arriving families.  The result is an enormous increase in overcrowded, poorly built ghettoes, with few amenities and virtually no sanitation or clean water supply. [2]  

                    a) The case of Sao Paulo, Brazil

Sao Paulo, Brazil’s largest city, and home to approximately 25 million people, has grown in size mainly because of the migration of people from the Brazilian countryside.  65% of the growth of the city is due to migration, the remainder being the result of the birth rate being higher than the death rate; the natural growth of the indigenous population. [2]

The rapid growth of the city has led to a severe shortage of housing, and is typical of how such cities are wholly unable to cope with such a huge and rapid influx of people.  Similarly, the newly arriving people find shelter by building their own houses.  ‘Shanty towns’ spring up on the outskirts of the city, and of course, these are unplanned and consequently have no amenities and are massively overcrowded.  In such areas – called ‘favelas’ in Brazil, things like provision of fresh drinking water and sewage disposal are practically non-existent. [2]  

The areas chosen by these settlers are on the edges of the cities, often close to industry: transportation in such areas is minimal; hence the need to be close to places offering employment.  In Sao Paulo, some of these areas are up to 40 or 50 kilometres outside the city, and only connected by a single main road.  However, whereas planned ribbon development is common in most cities, these unplanned dwellings crowd steep hillsides, principally because no one has a claim on the land there.

The Brazilian government is providing assistance by setting up ‘self-help’ schemes and by providing materials with which to construct pavements and fairly rudimentary roads, leaving other vital resources for the provision of water pipes and waste disposal facilities.

The case of San Paulo is fairly typical of cities in LDCs.  In developed countries, the migration to cities is much less common, with people moving out of town as the improving of arterial roads makes living in pleasanter, rural areas and commuting every day to work a much more attractive proposition, though this too presents problems for rural districts; the number of facilities rapidly becoming inadequate for the numbers of people who live in so called ‘commuter villages’.

b) The case of ‘commuter villages in UK.

In developed countries such as England, the migration of people to other areas does occur but it is far more controlled and the numbers involved are fewer.  As people become better off financially, they move out of the city and buy property on the outskirts of urban areas and in villages outside city limits.  Then, different kinds of problems present themselves.

The demand for housing in rural areas pushes house prices up, making it virtually impossible for young, ‘first time buyers’ to purchase a home in the area where they grew up.  In these cases, a sort of reverse migration happens with the more affluent people from the town moving to villages, and the less affluent, often younger villagers moving into the towns and cities where house prices are within their reach.

When villages become inhabited by cars owners, local shops suffer from a lack of trade as those with their own transport choose to shop in supermarkets in other areas, where  prices are cheaper.  

In addition, poorer, indigenous young adults are often marginalized, or at any rate feel that way, and this variety of alienation becomes a breeding ground for activities such as substance abuse and petty crime to finance it.

Problems associated with urbanization are not exclusively peculiar to LDCs, though such problems occurring in developed countries are different in nature, and of far less magnitude, though still very serious for those directly involved.  In both types of country though, urbanization can and often does lead to problems other than those of housing and the provision of facilities.      

ii) Crime

Unplanned urban areas are difficult to police, and in countries like Brazil, the more affluent sections of the population protect themselves by living within guarded and fenced compounds.  Crime proliferates, though, in spite of siege-like conditions in the more prosperous parts of the city.

Even in countries like Australia, for example, factors such as economic decline resulting in migration have contributed to an increase in crime. [3]  

In cities in LDCs, though, a vicious circle is set up.  It is generally acknowledged that societies that are stable and have low crime rates, secure and safe environments and rational means of dealing with conflict and ‘rule-breaking’ attract investment into their economies, with the corollary to this also being true; those countries which are relatively unstable, with environments that are insecure and unsafe, do not attract investment and this lack of financial resources impacts upon the poorest sections of population who are subject to high rates of unemployment and poor housing conditions.  In poor areas, crime flourishes as more conventional means of earning a living are denied to more and more people.  [4]

  • Crime in Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, for example, which is ranked sixth in the world in terms of the ratio of police to number of inhabitants (640 police per 100,000 in 1994- [5]) criminal activity is increasing in this former British colony.  Increases in various types of crime: violent crime against persons, and crime against property have pointed to the fact that, “the effects of industrialization and urbanization weaken social control.” Dobinson.  [6]  

The effects of industrialization and urbanization, viz. the weakening of social control and an increase in crime rates, occur in Hong Kong despite what have been termed ‘the protective value of cultural and ethnic homogeneity combined with the preservation of traditional Confucionist values and extended kinship structures.’ [5]

Once such cultural norms and values have been breached or destroyed, they are hard to re-establish.  Urbanization can be and often is responsible for the relocating of families and individuals, which means that any normalizing relationships such as extended kinship structures become under great strain or rendered ineffective.  The policing of densely populated areas seems to be in danger of becoming similarly ineffective as a deterrent against crime or as the enforcement of law and order.  

D. Priorities in urban areas

  • Primary causes of criminal activity

Need and the opportunity to commit crime do not make people commit crimes.  In some extremely poor areas of the world, crime is virtually unknown.  In other, more affluent areas, crime is rife.  What makes one area crime free and another crime ridden?    Studies related to children’s behaviour, have found that setting influences behaviour. [7]  

According to Whiting (1986), there are three relevant aspects of a setting: the space and contents of the space; the characters who are present, and the activities that occur in the setting.  For children living in overcrowded, poor ghettoes on the edges of massive cities, it is easy to see how this might be true.  In studies of six populations, which include children in Okinawa, Japan, the Philippines, Northern India, Kenya, Mexico City and the United States, Whiting and her colleagues found that the characteristics (ibid) of the setting evoke and reinforce habits of social interaction, which become the “core of a child’s behavioural profile.” [7]

Living in the midst of what is often deviant social behaviour, a child’s contact with altruistic, self-reliant models becomes diminished, preventing him from learning helpful and responsible behaviour.  On the contrary, such characters in such settings force the child to increase his egotistic behaviour and his covetousness, and resort to the use of aggressive techniques when interacting with other children.  [7]

Particularly vulnerable are children who leave home to live ‘on the street’.  According to studies 8 there is a circle of experience which links street migration and behaviour on the streets to the way children are treated in the justice system. Causes of street migration are primarily poverty, ruptured family relationships, urbanization, and in certain parts of the world, HIV/AIDS. [8]

It is said ([8]) that rapid urbanization of the type discussed and described earlier, is associated with an increase in crime rates, and the disruption of social support networks.  As migrants to cities move into ghettoes where identification is lost and a postal address unknown, it is easy to see how people become removed from the types of support they are most in need of.  

Children who leave rural areas for urban ones end up living on the street, and then fall prey to criminal elements that exploit their anonymity and their vulnerability. [9]

“Municipal restructuring [including rapid urbanization] contributes to a spatial exclusion, which inhibits the socialization of the youth that live in this space and leads to specific patterns of crime.” ([9]) The socialization that young people do receive may come from the members of gangs that ‘control’ such areas and exploit the young.  

In deprived peri-urban areas (areas on the periphery of towns and cities) there is a shortage of amenities that promote appropriate leisure activities and so children hang around in groups and fall prey to older youths in street gangs.
In such peri-urban areas where petty crime proliferates, the young on the streets become criminalized often before there is any evidence that they have committed an offence. [10]
Just being on the street at night often means being taken away and locked up for the night.  Once inside a lock-up, children become abused, beaten up and generally ill-treated.  Is it any wonder then that such children turn to ways to escape capture and join gangs for some form of protection.    

From there it is only a short step to substance abuse and crimes that are associated with selling and using drugs.

According to the Undugu Society of Kenya, 60% of boys living on the streets have health problems associated with taking drugs.  The most widely used substance being glue mixed with petrol. [11]

To then further add to the plight of poor street children, they are usually all assumed to be drug addicts, which has the effect of restricting their access to basic services such as health clinics, while still rendering them susceptible to verbal abuse and humiliation at the hands of the police and the general public, and this is regardless of whether or not they are actually involved in substance abuse. [12]  

The circle of experience becomes complete as children become victims of the criminalization of homelessness. [8]

  • Removing the causes: the role of education in urban areas

Poorly educated parents invariably have poorly educated children, either because the schools in their areas are poor, or because children do not do well at school and are not encouraged to do well, or because of truancy, or due to all three.

Truancy – the staying away from school without good reason – is rife in urban areas.  Children that play truant meet other children who are also staying away from school, and boredom together with lack of supervision become the prerequisites to children misbehaving.  

The reasons why children play truant are various and range from issues that affect particular individuals, and those issues that affect most children.  In the case of the former, a child may dislike a particular teacher or lesson; he may be due for some punishment on the day he is absent, or some pressing need at home may keep him from going to school that day.   As far as the latter is concerned; truancy having more generally applicable reasons, such things as a lack of any aspirations to do well, or peer group pressure by which a child comes to think that staying away from school is normal or beneficial, or more insidious reasons such as gang activities in the daytime may be the causes.  

It is easy to see that children who come from deprived areas in which opportunities to achieve something real and lasting are scarce or practically non-existent, are drawn into petty crime and deviant moral behaviour.  To behave otherwise in such communities is often to invite censure and punishment.  

A child faces exclusion from school if truancy continues, or isolation from his peers on the streets and in the playgrounds if it doesn’t.  Faced with such a choice, a child might well opt for the former, particularly when education is perceived as a waste of time.  

A study of the links between truancy, school exclusion and substance abuse has been conducted by the Edinburgh Study of Youth Transition and Crime and reported by Lesley McAra. [13]

The key findings of the report were as follows:-

  • Truants have a significantly higher drug use, underage drinking and smoking than pupils who do not play truant.

  • Long term truants exhibit a higher incidence of all forms of substance misuse in comparison with other categories of truant.

  • Illegal drug use and smoking significantly predict truancy, taking into account other variables such as school experience, victimization, parenting, and a range of personality characteristics such as low self-esteem and impulsivity.

  • Pupils who have been excluded from school display higher incidence of illegal drug use, underage drinking and smoking than do pupils who have not been excluded.

  • Substance abuse is less strongly associated with exclusion than it is for truancy.

  • Early intervention targeting health risk behaviour plays some part in lessening truancy rates.

  • Substance abuse is only one part of a complex set of behaviours and adverse circumstances associated with both truancy and exclusion.

  • Future policies need to take into account gender differences: early truanting is predominantly a male activity, while in secondary education, girls truant more than boys.  However, where exclusion is concerned, boys form the overwhelming majority of those excluded from schools. [13]

The study also found that truancy and exclusion are closely connected to low educational attainment, and are particularly prevalent amongst children from deprived areas.  Again, this has the ring of a vicious circle with low achievers coming from deprived areas, and being either excluded or truanting from school and thereby significantly lessening their chances of attainment at school, which means that ultimately they have less chance of finding employment later on.  In short, the very children likely to go wrong before, during, and after schooling, are those same children who are placed in the position in which they are most susceptible to getting involved with criminal elements in society.

The vexing question of how to break this cycle; perception – action – reinforcement of perception can only be achieved by educationalists working with parents and community leaders, and sponsorship by local and national government in the form of the provision of financial resources and expertise.  

The ‘truancy and exclusion’ study ([13]) concurred that policies are likely to be effective when aimed at discipline in school, and fostering pro-school attitudes among young people as well as their parents with the aim of increasing parental involvement in school.

In addition, some form of community policing seems to be the best way of tackling the problem of children committing petty crimes outside school when they should be sitting in a classroom.  Recognizing that one thing is symptomatic of another rather than just something to incur punishment for would surely be a helpful way of beginning the sensitive policing of such areas. [13]

Of course, a greater involvement on the part of parents would be a necessary prerequisite too.  Initiatives in which parents are encourages to become involved and discover the roots of problems in their own way and using their own language (rather like the Freirian model of tackling problems of adult literacy) are more likely to be successful than those schemes where parents are told what to think and how to bring up their children.

Of course, any educational programme must, if it is to be effective, be tailored to the context of those being educated.  In developing countries, such educational schemes invariably include a large amount of practical assistance, particularly where women are concerned.  Typical goals of such schemes include:-
  • Learning to b assertive

  • Learning to form their own opinion and express it

  • Learning to listen to others

  • To build a stronger self-image

  • To achieve competence in human relations and practical knowledge [15]

In such course, for example, women are empowered; encouraged to tackle things they haven’t done before. [15]

Of course, in an urban context in, for example, Newcastle Upon Tyne, some of the things women haven’t done before might include standing up at a parent teacher evening and making a point in public.  This type of learning would typically involve all or at least most of the categories outlined above.

In Khartoum, Sudan, it might involve learning how to recognize and treat the early stages of malaria or dysentery, with the practical knowledge taking priority over issues such as gaining self-esteem.

  1. Priorities in rural areas: giving people a chance by improving life and lessening the appeal of the city.

If life in the situation in the large urban areas we call cities, but which now might be termed something else, several things have got to happen.  First, the numbers still migrating from poorer rural areas will have to diminish considerably.  Already stretched social services and amenities could not cope with more people arriving to be housed, fed, and generally looked after.  Second, the situation for those already living in these urban areas will have to improve if crime is not to increase.  Lastly, life in rural areas will have to improve to the temptations the city holds for many rural dwellers; the ‘push’ factors will have to be reduced.  The massive problem of poverty in rural areas means that city life appears more attractive, even though reality does not bear this out.  Education and the provision of facilities like clinics will go some way to helping people feel less likely to want to uproot and move to the city.

G.  Breaking the link between urbanization and criminal activity

In urban areas in which people are susceptible to criminal activity, increasing the involvement of parents in schooling, home education, and monitoring children’s behaviour on the streets seem vital if the criminal activity of the young is to be stopped.

As far as children who live on the street are concerned, closer ties between communities and police and security forces would seem to be the answer.  In some cities curfews have been authorized in an attempt to ensure that children do not break the law under the cover of darkness.

The setting up of supervised hostels for homeless children and mandatory schooling to educate such children into more socially acceptable patterns of behaviour would surely alleviate the problems encountered by children on the street.

Lastly, re-educating police and security officials and a changing of attitudes towards children at risk would be a necessary prerequisite to a more humane way of dealing with children whose only crime may be that they do not have a roof over their heads or a family to share it with.  

H. Conclusion

The measures outlined above: educational, social and attitudinal, would have to become part of government initiatives in areas where criminal activities are linked closely to the conditions in which people live.  Such schemes need financial resources and planning; they need trained personnel and facilities, and they need time for implementation and sustained effort that will yield results that enhance the lives of everyone in our cities.

However, if nothing is done in rural areas to remove the temptations that living in the city is perceived to offer, then any work in urban areas will be overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of those still migrating to our bigger cities.






  6. Dobinson I. (1994) ‘The Measurement of Crime’, in Gaylard M.S. and Travers H. eds.  Introduction to the Hong Kong Criminal Justice System, Hong Kong University Press  Hong Kong

  7. Whiting B. (1986) Effects of urbanization on children’s behaviour  From
      8.  Petty C. and Brown M. (eds), Justice for children      Save the Children  June 1998  
      9. Urbanization, social exclusion of youth and street crime.  From
10. Human rights Watch, Police abuse and killing of street children in India,
      November 1996
12. Human rights Watch, Children of Bulgaria: Police violence and arbitrary
      confinement,  September 1996
13. McAra L. (2004) Truancy, school exclusion and substance abuse
      Centre for Law and society.  University of Edinburgh
14. Making learning attractive and strengthening links to working life.  In
15. Preventing crime and creating safer communities  in


At 2:23 PM , Blogger cylon said...

Visualization is a tool that has been used for thousands of years by initiates of all the metaphysical schools. Today, it is incorporated into top athlete's daily routines and is used in business affairs frequently. It's use is wide-spread among highly successful people, either consciously or unconsciously, aware of its create power. So if it has stood the test of time and is still being used by high achievers we must come to the conclusion that it works! But has it ever worked for you?

If you answered 'yes' to the above question then you know how powerful this technique can be. If, on the other hand, you gave the more likely answer 'no' then take heart for I am about to reveal to you a sure fire way of reaching your objectives through this mostly misunderstood art.

The trouble with visualization is simple - its in its name!

When studying and contemplating the art of visualization most people have the impression that they must create visual images and make them real or life-like. Many people, in fact the majority, find this almost impossible to do. Even if they can formulate a solid picture of their objective they find it extremely difficult to sustain the image for any length of time. Either the image fades, changes or other intruding thoughts intervene.

This type of visualization is almost impossible to sustain and luckily it is not at all necessary. Why? Because it is in the subconscious mind that your visualization needs to be placed and there is good news. The subconscious mind does not know the difference between an imaginary event and a real one. Your visual image only needs to be a strong visually as any other imagined event. However, that is only half the story.

If all you had to do was just imagine stuff and your world automatically changed to reflect your imaginings this world would be full of chaos (not to mention all those creepy crawly bug-eyed monsters!). Therefore, there are a few more steps to complete before the visualization is passed to the subconscious for manifestation.

Let's try a little experiment. Remember a scene from your past that has a lot of good feelings around it. Any good memory will do, like the first time you heard the words "I love you" from your partner, an amazingly spectacular sunset, a great holiday event or your last birthday. Pick one and remember it. How clear is the image? Can you remember any sounds? What way did you feel? Is there any sense of touch, taste or smell? Identify how your memory works. Is it mostly visual, auditory, kinaesthetic or of a feeling nature?

Now we are going to create an imagined event in our lives that has the same strength and potency as that image. So relax and let's go.

Imagine something that you do everyday, something that you did yesterday, today and will do tomorrow. Let us take the example of waking up tomorrow morning. Don't try to add or take anything away, just think about it and analyse the scene. Is it dark or light? Are you lying next to someone in bed? Do you still feel tired? Has the alarm clock sounded? Are you irritable that you have to get up or full of joy at the dawn of a new day?

You will find that the imagined event is very similar to the memory with probably one key difference - your point of perspective. Is the memory behind you and the future event in front of you? Is one to the left and one to the right? Maybe they are both in front of you or the future seems to move in a clockwise direction. Whatever the perspective the thing to notice is that they are very similar in appearance.

Now imagine doing your future event a week from now, then a month from now, then six months from now. Where are those images placed? Are they moving further away, going clockwise, from left to right? This is your time-line and using it is important in visualization as you will see later.

Ok, let's imagine something that is very unlikely to happen and see where it differs from the last image.

Imagine you are sitting somewhere familiar which is extremely comfortable and relaxing to you. Now imagine that a person you know well comes up to where you are and says "hello". Imagine them telling you that they want to show you a new trick. All of a sudden they have three juggling balls. They throw them in the air and begin to juggle with ease. Then they begin to whistle one of your favourite tunes. You suddenly realize that there is a strong smell of flowers in the room and notice a vase of them just behind the juggler. Imagine laughing loudly at the scene and feeling joyful at the experience. Then the person juggling leans forward stands on leg and puts the other leg outstretched behind them. All the while still juggling and whistling. Then they begin to hop on their leg as a small bird flies over to perch on their head. Once you have the imagined event and stayed with it a few moments just let it fade.

Ok open your eyes. What was the difference between the two images? Can you spot any? Did you use more, less or roughly the same senses in your fantasy event as you did in the future one? Did you see them from different angles? Was the picture bigger in one than the other? Was the sound clearer, the feelings more acute or the smell stronger? Take some time and go back to each scene in your mind. How does the future event differ from the fantasy one? Are you looking at both from a different vantage point? Do you see yourself in the image of one but not the other? Analyse the scenes and see where they differ.

Have you identified how the future event differs from the fantasy one? If you have then its time to make visualization work for you! Take a goal that you have been working on or would like to achieve. Nothing too far-fetched at this point please! Pick something that is possible but at the moment seems a little impractical. Once you have it form a mental image of what it would be like to have, be or do that thing or be in that experience. Remember to form it the same way you do a memory. Give it the same strength visually, in sound, feeling, taste and touch - use your mind in its natural state. All you have to do is imagine the scene.

Ok how does it differ from the scene of waking in the morning? Can you identify the differences in perspective, sound, taste, touch, feelings and what you hear?

Now there will be one other key thing that differs in the images- it is very simple but often overlooked. You know that the future event is going to happen! This is reflected in the way we experience the image. So what we are going to do is fool your subconscious mind into thinking your goal is definitely going to happen by manipulating your goal image!

Once you know what the differences are in each image begin to change the goal image so that it is seen the same way as the future event in your imagination. Place the visualized scene in exactly the same position with the same perspective as your future event.

Place it in the correct position on your time-line. You may already begin to feel that the goal is more possible. Visualise in this way everyday and you will condition your subconscious mind to manifest the experiences necessary to make your goal attainment certain.

One more thing to remember: During the day think about your goal often. This reinforces the visualization and will begin to dispel doubt from your mind. subliminal messages


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