Broken Window Theory

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Analyse the ‘Broken Window’ theory in relation to crime prevention. What are the main strengths and weaknesses of this theory.
The Broken Windows theory was first proposed by two social scientists James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling in the 1982 article, "Broken Windows", ( Wilson and Kelling, 1982). The analogy of broken windows used to explain this theory is that signs of disorder in a neighborhood inhibit the efforts of the residents to show social control. Any lack of social control makes the neighborhood vulnerable to other anti-social activities such as public drinking and theft. This degradation of the overall morality of the neighborhood, then attracts more unsavoury crimes, such as prostitution and drug dealing, until,
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It has been shown that the more a community is seen to be associated with criminal activity, the more afraid the residents are of being a part of that community, (Pitner et al, 2012). What has been proposed to counter-act this belief is that community members take a greater concern and pride in the community’s conditions and safety. Volunteer programs involving senior and younger residents, in addition to neighborhood watch programs, can build mutual trust and more solid relations between residents. This can result in residents being more active in reducing minor infractions and, ultimately, crime in the neighborhoods, (Bolder et al, 2005). The Broken Window theory can be used as motivation for a neighborhood to fund youth programs that provide unsupervised teens and children an enjoyable place to spend their time. It may also influence parents to pay more attention to their children and their activities outside of their home environment.

While the Broken Window theory has many supporters and can be backed up by field experiments and statistical data, there are also many detractors of the theory. In the New York example, there are many other factors that could have led to the decrease in crime rates during that time. Factors such as an increase in members of the New York City police force, the changes in drug use away from heroin, toward crack cocaine (the increased availability of
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