The Connection between Poverty and Crime

Poverty promotes selling drugs as an alternative income source. Poverty motivates people to sell illegal drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, and methamphetamine, to earn a living. Children born in low-income families and impoverished neighborhoods have limited growth opportunities and might consider selling drugs for a career. Such children are less likely to go to school and acquire the skills required to land a well-paying job. The situation leaves them without a future and a career unless they indulge in the drug trade. Although the drug trade is illegal, it guarantees quick and high returns, persuading poor people to start selling drugs and take chances with the law. Drug dealers recruit poor people into drug mules. Drug trade creates an environment promoting other crimes.

Extreme poverty levels foster prostitution. While young men in impoverished neighborhoods sell drugs, young women result in selling their bodies. Prostitution is a crime in many countries where the practice is considered illegal and immoral. Women are less likely to engage in violent crimes or energy-intensive jobs such as construction, where physical strength determines success. Poor, uneducated girls are left with limited income opportunities. Prostitution is attractive to women because it requires no education, pays well, and is less risky than violent crimes.

Furthermore, poverty promotes prostitution through human trafficking. Human traffickers prey on young girls in emerging countries, promising them good jobs abroad. Once the girls arrive at the designated country, they are coerced into prostitution. Drink spiking, aggravated robbery, and murder are prone to arise when one is involved in prostitution.

Courtesy / Tim Tebow Foundation

Poverty encourages youths to join gangs and organized criminal groups. Many gangs and criminals groups start in poor neighborhoods where desperate individuals unite to pursue crime as a profession. The money gained from illegal activities allows gang members to buy expensive cars, dress nicely, and buy houses. Their lifestyle attracts young people in the ghetto who are hopeless and desperate. The youths view seasoned criminals as role models and consider gang membership as a way out of poverty. Organized crime groups are also a way out of poverty because they allow individuals to earn substantial sums by committing unlawful activities. Individuals in such groups are hired to kill, kidnap, and carjack vehicles. These illegal activities generate quick cash, attracting those living in poverty and willing to take a risk.

Poverty drives people into terrorism. The primary tool terrorist organizations use to recruit people is religious ideologies. However, such groups also exploit other channels, including money, whereby they pay those who join the movements and facilitate terrorist attacks. For example, a terrorist organization can use poor individuals in the West to transport weapons because they are less likely to be profiled and searched by law enforcement agencies. Such allows the terrorist to enter a country as a tourist but access weapons once inside national or regional borders. The individuals who facilitate terror attacks do not care about the destruction, and their priority is to get paid. In many cases, poverty pushes people to extremes where they want to better lives without evaluating how their approach impacts others.

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