Myths and Reality of Crime

Since childhood, every person is aware of the word “crime”. For some people it brings fear to perform a certain activity, serving as a stop sign that one must not cross; for others – it is a way of life from which they cannot escape. Actually, crime is present in each sphere of our everyday life, but noticing most of the crimes is difficult. People are always aware of how criminals might look, or what crimes they might commit – murder or theft, for example; but the reality of crime is much broader.

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Nowadays, when people are asked to describe a criminal, most would go with: male, a rude face, dressed in old or dirty clothing, someone who steals phones or robs people. Besides, due to large media attention, many people would bring up politicians or businesspersons, who have been caught at such activities as stealing government money, laundering or obstructing justice. Thus, due to information being spread via media sources, the public today is more aware of economic and political crimes.

Besides, due to the social media, the society is aware of broader crime definitions. While being small, the children are taught not to steal, but when they grow up, they see people steal on a large scale, which brings a lot of attention. This fascination can lower the understanding of crime as a concept. There cannot be a certain single definition of “crime” coming from the public’s view, as the way people perceive crime depends on the way they are exposed to it. If exposed through media, most of the white-collar crimes can be made fun of or simplified to help the viewer understand it better. Yet, this approach might be the reason why a white-collar crime is still rampant and widely unchecked.

Every society defines its own crime. It is mostly due to the culture or way of living of a particular society that gives a definition for crime. For example, tribal societies usually view the killing of animals for food or rituals as a part of their culture. Meanwhile, in a modern society the unreasonable killing of animals is a serious offense. As stated by Morrison,

Social construction is a highly influential and controversial current perspective. In summary, it argues that our concepts and the practical consequences that flow from using them are the products (constructions) of social interaction and only make sense within the communities in which that interaction takes place. In other words, ‘crime’ is a label created in social interaction, but once created it has both a symbolic and practical reality.

Murder is a crime, and therefore must be punished. The right to live is absolute, and any threat to it should be punished. This is a common sense almost in every part of the world. Taking someone’s life is the biggest offense for a civil person. Self-defense is not perceived as murder. Thus, if the self-defense is proved, it is justifiable as every person has the right to protect their own life.

A quite widespread misconception is that the majority of crimes are committed because of social deprivation and lack of opportunity; they are believed to be committed by people in poverty, who have a low social status and thus have a gap between their aspirations and the reality. Asking people, about the most widespread crime, the majority will point to the street crime (robbery, theft) as the most commonly committed. Yet, most fail to see that white-collar crime, committed by corporations, people with wealth and power, is far more common in a society. This myth is difficult to abandon as these crimes are usually done behind the closed doors and go unnoticed. about it is a huge task to highlight a white-collar crime as it requires an understanding in economics, law, psychology, etc. Thus, the comparatively low-level street crime is much easier to understand for a common person. That is why there are far less white-collar crimes reported by the social media. Such a gap between the knowledge of street crime and white-collar crime creates the perception that the majority of crimes are the store robberies, small money theft (compared to white-collar funding theft, for example), or street murder.

In conclusion, crime influences our lives as much as everything else. It is a complex subject that has a very subjective side to it. There are common misconceptions and misunderstandings about a crime among the members of the society, but overall people today are generally more aware of non-street crimes than they were in the past due to the social media. The public’s view on white-collar crime is far broader than in the past, but it is still not seen as the most widespread crime in today’s world.