In the 1950s a psychologist, Stanton Samenow, and a psychiatrist, Samuel
sharing the conventional wisdom that crime is caused by environment, set out to prove
their point. They began a 17-year study involving thousands of hours of clinical testing
of 250 inmates here in the District of Columbia. To their astonishment, they discovered
that the cause of crime cannot be traced to environment, poverty, or oppression. Instead,
crime is the result of individuals making, as they put it, wrong moral choices. In their
1977 work The Criminal Personality, they concluded that the answer to crime is a
"conversion of the wrong-doer to a more responsible lifestyle." In 1987, Harvard
professors James Q. Wilson and Richard J. Herrnstein came to similar conclusions in their
book Crime and Human Nature. They determined that the cause of crime is a lack of proper
moral training among young people during the morally formative years, particularly ages
one to six.
Christianity Today, August 16, 1993, p. 30.
Statistics and Stuff
Television may be responsible for doubling our crime rate in the United States,
suggests Brandon Centerwall, psychiatrist at the University of Washington, in a recent
study reported in the June 1992 Journal of the American Medical Association. Centerwall
analyzed crime statistics both before and after TV was introduced in several communities.
Those comparisons cause him to conclude that prolonged exposure to violence on TV has
increased the number of murders in the U.S. by 10,000 each year. He sees TV as a
"causal factor" in about 70,000 rapes and 700,000 injurious assaults annually.
Hollywood vs. America by Michael Medved (Harper
Collins/Zondervan, 1992), quoted
in Leadership, Summer 1993, p. 76.