Due to the Weather: Ways the Elements Affect Our Lives

By Abraham Resnick | Go to book overview

23
CRIME

Many criminologists and sociologists for more than 100 years have been doing independent studies in an endeavor to uncover a relationship between crime and the climate. Their research did not find climate to be the principal cause of crime, however, they as well as the U.S. Department of Justice in 1980, linked violent crimes against persons with the heat of the summer months. The findings attributed the eruption of human emotions to the increase of heat during that time of the year. An examination of 40,000 cases of assault and battery occurring between 1891 and 1897 in New York City found that the rise of people's emotions during the hottest times of the summer months led to an increase in fighting.

In the past some eminent researchers maintained that people were more likely to riot or commit assault in May or June, months when insanity and sexual crimes also reach their peaks. Their general conclusion was that other factors besides weather need to be taken into consideration before a definite crime-climate connection can be established. At the very least, they suggest that data indeed show that the warm summer months provide enhance opportunities for the commission of different crimes.

Heat waves, it is speculated, may trigger violent crimes when patience and tempers are short and people become edgy. As a case in point, the murder rate in New York catapulted 75 percent during the heat wave of 1988. The rates of domestic violence also show decisive increases during hot sultry weather. The heat-behavior connection may be indirectly related to the fact that people try to "beat the heat" by consuming larger quantities of cold beer and alcoholic beverages. Hot tempers and hot temperatures cannot be cooled by iced drinks of alcohol.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation in a 1994 report entitled Crime in the United States released a number of crime statistics by categories. In summary they found that various kinds of crime were greatest during

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