T Nation

Poverty and Crime - What Can Be Done?


Since the Trayvon Martin threads have become poisonous finger pointing and bickering I'd like to offer a thread that may be hopeful. I'll start with some background:

I lived in Kansas City, KS for the first 2 years of my life and then spend a large portion of the next 20 there. For those who don't know, KCKS has one of the highest (might be the actual highest) per capita murder rates in the US.

My girlfriend is from Colorado and she attended UMKC for her masters. Her thesis was about the affects of social service agencies on crime rate. Her data mining showed what is being argued ad nauseum; being low income, black, and surprisingly enough being close to social service agencies were all correlated with high crime rate. Which one of these factors is responsible is not what this thread is about, however.

The question is, what can be done in these areas to effectively make a change? It seems people are so confident in these social service agencies which don't really work. Teaching history and financial management in schools is ineffective if none of these folks attend class.

My girlfriend was a Big Sister to a little black girl who lived in an especially bad part of the city. After several months it became obvious the little girl was using my girlfriend for free meals at restaurants. Once the restaurants stopped, contact stopped. She was 12 years old and started dating a boy, the thought absolutely terrified my girlfriend.

DN said she was involved in organizations trying to help these communities so maybe she can chime in. I would like for this to not get nasty. This can be a place to share success stories as well.

From my own experiences:
-Getting out of poverty requires being fed up with the bullshit that happens in your life and completely abandoning it. These people get out and if their family is not on board they do not enable them to drag them back.

-Social service agencies may not be as effective as they claim--at least when it comes to crime rate. I do not think this should result in abandoning them, just taking an honest assessment of their value to the community.

-I believe mentoring programs are probably one of the most valuable programs for this problem. The issue is that you only get a short period of time with the individual. My girlfriend highly suspects that her Little Sister's mom was influencing her situation negatively. You can also not mentor someone who does not want to accept advice.


I think that we would serve the under privileged far better by offering government assistance in the form of education rather than in the form of food stamps or whatever. By education I mean either A.) A GED to a college degree or B.) a trade school. It's the whole feed a man a fish he eats for a day teach a man to fish he eats for a life time thought.

Part of the issue, imo, is that some people view certain jobs as beneath them. There are jobs out there for under privileged or uneducated folks, but they aren't prestigious, like garbage collection. They are there though.

Part of the issue, imo, is the handout mentality our nation has developed.

Part of the issue, imo, is the victim mentality that many under privileged seem to have. I don't blame them at all. They were born into a shit position. Privilege does exist and many are born with it, that's a part of life. That doesn't mean you can't dig your way out though. Look at Ben Carson for example. He's a local hero here. I wish more would follow in his footsteps.


I live in KC on the Mo side and Im very aware of the homicide problem here. Per capita its very high KCK is known as crimedotte. East KC and most of Wyndotte dont have much infastructure no real big employers for the non white collar crowd. Sure we have some factories like Ford around here but they are full from what I hear. East KC and the Wyndotte area are not much more then a concrete waste land. And with such a poor public transit system here its hard to imagine folks can travel to many of big employers that are mainly off the grid for city bus routes. Whats surprising about KC is the drug problem isnt as bad as say Bmore or Detroit. Most of the homicides here come from a wild wild west mentality of shoot anyone you dont like as opposed to the gang or drug related murders in Bmore or Chitown. Most of the killings here seem to be vendetta killings and stupid shit like dudes beefing at night clubs and partys.

So what can be done? IMO there needs to be more constuctive things for the youth to be apart of. A boxing or MMA school, more city run after school programs, more intra mural sports. In the innercity theres nothing to do no roller rinks, bowling alleys, ect.. As far as organizations go check out

Also the stop the violence coalition in KC is pretty active they are down on the plaza often
Also I believe Alvin Brooks and Emanual Cleaver have some organizations put together that are doing some good here


Not trying to complain, but on one hand people want social programs to go away, on the other hand they want to offer programs for kids and cut education. They are the same thing, programs like after school boxing programs went away, but I think this was the right track..

I'd be interested to see what proportion of violent or drug crimes are out of desperation, and from single parent homes or homes where both parents work a full time job and there is no supervision for a child coming home from school.

I didn't grow up in East Los, or Compton or K.C. But I did grow up in an environment where a lot of kids had semi broken homes, single parents, both working parents etc.. When you hit puberty and have no guidance, activity, sport, instrument to play and you need money, what do you think you are going to do as a young teen? You find an outlet, and you find a way to get the things you feel are important at the time.

It's not only about work, the hardest working people in the world are Mexican. A lot of the time you will find both parents working jobs, often the father working several part time jobs because full time means benefits. I see it where I work, we have seasonal housekeepers who come and go with the ebb and flow of the business of the tourist seasons.


You can plan all you want, but without intact homes you can forget it. Want to help the poor with crime, education, and multi-generational poverty? Get the fathers back, and the parents married. Otherwise, all this talk is just to make ourselves thing we care. If you care, bring back shame and guilt.




BINGO! I don't believe you can "legislate" this into practice, so social or "peer" pressure seems the most appropriate strategy.


Sterilize criminals and the poor. If they can't reproduce, no more poverty and crime. It's science.


It's welfare. Stop the handouts. Like someone said, start giving the "aid" in forms of education and mentoring, training and personal development.

When it comes to their "food", since the inner city has the highest rates of obesity, why would we let them buy snickers and ribs? Let the taxpayer choose the food, since we are paying for their fat lazy ass... That is an incentive right there. Don't like it? Well, get a damn job! Or you can have Joe Taxpayer pay for chicken breasts, rice, salad and a bunch of fruits and veggies. That's it. No fucking French fries, ice cream, pizza rolls, Little Debbie's etc.

Tough shit.


Because then people will be able to think for themselves and recognize the stuff we were selling them was a crap sandwich. Keep the poor poor and they will continue to vote their checks higher by voting for bigger government. Educate the poor and they will vote their checks higher, but this time make the government smaller.


Welfare can become addicting.


And that person probably pre-sold that purchase for 50% cash once they walked out the store. It is becoming an epidemic.


If somebody is on food stamps/welfare ect....they should have to work for the state. Road cleanup, maintenance of public property, working at the dump...ect.

One, it gives them a "job" and two, it motivates them to get real employment and not just a free check every month.


I agree, but there is no one in Washington willing to be called a racist.


Why would that be racist? There are more whites collecting welfare than any other group


By total numbers yes....by percentage, no...by a long shot the last time I checked.

It's irrelevant tho, if people get free stuff and don't have to do anything....why change? Pop out another kid and collect more in 9 months.


It was a joke, but since you asked. It seems like the al sharptons and jesse jackson's of the world are the first to jump on the you're racists for cutting welfare band wagon. Remember the "Welfare Queen" statement. I only know of one Queen and she is white.


I was a Ted talk recently about obesity in South Central LA. The area is described as a food desert, all they have are liquor and fast food stores and their minute marts don't carry produce. It's easier and cheaper to feed a family off the dollar menu.

I've discussed this with my girlfriend often and the only thing we can really ever come up with is there has to be a generation of great suffering. Working at her specific non-profit she saw precisely how these social programs worked, and it was almost never as intended. The exceptions are the ones that have a certain quid pro quo attached to them (i.e. free or cheap housing as long as the tenants attend one financial class a week and upkeep their areas). Are these areas fixable or is the only option to cut them off? It's sickening to think about.

I actually wanted this in GAL so DN would comment. She commented in another thread about working in impoverished areas and I'd like to hear her feedback.


This is the video I was talking about.