The statistics above are rather interesting statistics. Despite the fact that they come from the Wikipedia, I have gone to the website of the FBI and confirmed some of the figures in order to ensure that they are graphed correctly. Most baby boomers have grown up with a crime rate that increased from the time they were around 10 years old (plus or minus, mostly plus) to the time that they were in their mid 40’s (plus or minus, mostly plus).
During that time, the Leave It To Beaver world that they remembered disappeared. Crime rates skyrocketed, and we became a population no longer willing to have our children walk to the neighborhood park to meet their friends and play all day. Rather, organized team sports became one of the ways that we ensured the safety of our children. Then, mysteriously, in the mid 1990’s, the crime rate began to fall. While the crime rate is not quite down to the levels of 1960, if trends continue they will drop to those rates again within another 10 years. It will take longer than that for society to begin to return to patterns of living that we remember as children.
It is interesting to note that almost no correlation has been found between the rising and then falling crime rates. States which severely toughened their criminal penalties and states that did not had equally increased, then equally decreased crime rates. States which were concealed weapon friendly and states which were not had essentially the same rates of violent crime, home invasions, and rape, both going up and going down. In other words, it does not appear that either jurisprudence or penology had much to do with the rise and then the fall of the crime rate.
In fact, there is really only one correlation that can be drawn, and that is the baby boomer generation. The crime rate went up as the baby boomers reached their adult years and began to go down as the baby boomers reached their senior years. There have already been some preliminary studies done that show that the generations that follow the baby boomers already show a lower crime rate than the baby boomers. In fact, after every other factor has been eliminated but the age of the baby boomers, the only explanation left is that the baby boomers, as a generation, are much more willing to disobey the law.
In one way that is not fully surprising. The “ME” generation followed the Greatest Generation. Raised on Benjamin Spock, they learned that their every wish should be fulfilled. As a result, they were the generation that began to see what they wanted as being the most important thing, and anything that blocked what they wanted as being somehow not right. It is no wonder that the crime statistics began to skyrocket.
The post-9/11 generation, those who were 10-20 at the time of the Towers have experienced constant war and threats. Their job market has been awful, their economic prospects dim. Interestingly enough, their crime rate has been much closer to the 1960 crime rate. One would think that with the economic pressure that they would be more tempted to commit chicanery, but they have not. Like their grandparents and great-grandparents, they have come of age at a difficult time and are rising to the occasion.
Frankly, looking at the statistics above, and looking at what the baby boomers have done with the economy that was handed to them by their parents and grand-parents, maybe it is just as well that we are passing on. I suspect that history will not deal with us kindly at all, particularly our children and grandchildren who will have to bear the burden of us until we are gone.