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What's behind the increased violence during summer?

One theory is that warmer weather makes people more aggressive, and a growing body of research suggests there might be a link.
What's behind the increased violence during summer?
Posted at 3:49 PM, Jun 10, 2023

The unofficial start of summer saw violent incidents across the country.

According to the Gun Violence Archive, there were 15 mass shooting incidents across a dozen states during Memorial Day weekend, with at least 70 injured and at least nine killed.

That's almost exactly the same tragic tally as in 2022, when Memorial Day weekend saw 71 injured and nine killed, also across 15 incidents.

And in recent years, city officials and law enforcement have been boosting summer resources.

"However you decide to spend your holiday weekend in Chicago, your safety is my top priority. And to that end, our public safety agencies have plans in place for the weekend and summer months to ensure that everyone can enjoy our city in peace," said Brandon Johnson, Mayor of Chicago.

Historically, crimes tend to spike during the summer. But experts are mixed on why that might be.

One theory is that the warmer weather makes people more aggressive. And after decades of study, there is a growing body of research that suggests there might be a link.

One study from Drexel University found that this held for unusually warm days during months that were typically colder, not just during the summer season.

Another theory is that more potential incidents are possible simply because warmer weather means more people are outside. Not to mention, kids and young adults are out of school.

SEE MORE: Report shows US gun deaths reached record levels during COVID pandemic

This last point is especially important because people within the age range of 15–24 tend to commit the most crimes.

Criminologists sometimes refer to this drop-off in crime as "the age-crime curve."

Some cities are trying to speak directly to younger people with unique approaches.

"This plan is designed to ensure that our young people are safe and engaged," said Brandon Scott, Mayor of Baltimore.

"The Summer of Safety is designed to promote the safety of our city's most valuable asset, which is our kids," said Eric Johnson, Mayor of Dallas.

There's data to support this idea.

In 2021, the National Bureau of Economic Research looked at data from New York City's youth employment program, the largest of its kind in the country.

Participants in the program decreased the chance of any arrest by 17% and decreased the chance of felony arrests by 23%.

From program leaders to city officials, many have echoed the sentiment to Scripps News, emphasizing the importance of youth development in the summer.

"Giving young people productive things to do goes a long way to cut down on violent crime, but also gives them hope and opportunities," said Justin Bibb, Mayor of Cleveland.

"We have to make a change in our lives, a change in our families, a change in our community, and a change in the churches!" said teacher Mary Camper.

But not everyone is on board with the approach.

The Executive Director of the Violence Interrupters in Chicago told Fox News that the current approach is not working.

"It’s just insane because we cannot keep repeating the same mistakes expecting different results here in Chicago when it comes to reducing gun violence," said Tio Hardiman.


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