10.21.2005

crime

A big news story when we first got here was a rash of gun-related deaths in Toronto, mostly attributable to gang violence. By September, there had been 37. Last year Toronto hit an all-time high of deaths by guns: 50.

To our American ears, this number sounds almost like zero.

I don't want to minimize 50 deaths. Those are fifty people who could still be alive, fifty people whose families mourn them. And the fact that a city wants to reduce gun-related deaths is only a good thing.

But still, to our American ears, that number is miniscule.

The population of Toronto is 2.5 million, with another 2.5 million living in the Greater Toronto Area, for a total of 5 million.

The population of New York City is 8 million. The equivalent number of gun deaths in New York, based on relative population, would be 80. The Mayor who presided over that year could just about set him or herself up for life.

Also - and I'm not sure how this figures in - the population of Canada being so much smaller than that of the US, the percentage of Canadians living in the GTA is much, much higher than the percentage of Americans living in New York.

In comments here, James linked to some crime statistics from the Globe And Mail, via No More Mister Nice Blog. NMMNB notes:
The worst metro area in Canada -- the murder capital, the place decent people fear to go -- has a lower murder rate than the U.S. as a whole. Our murder rate is 5.5. per 100,000 population.

4.89? That's nothing. Several metropolitan areas in America (at least as of 2002) had murder rates over 10 per 100,000: Los Angeles-Long Beach; Detroit; Baltimore; Little Rock-North Little Rock; Baton Rouge; Gary, Indiana; Mobile, Alabama; Richmond-Petersburg, Virginia; and Stockton-Lodi, California. The rate in Memphis? Over 15. In, er, New Orleans? 24.4.

Also over 10 per 100,000: Jackson, Mississippi; Savannah, Georgia; Shreveport-Bossier City, Louisiana; and Fayetteville, North Carolina. Oh, and: Hattiesburg, Mississippi; Alexandria, Louisiana; and (over 15) Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and Victoria, Texas. [source links available on that site]
James noticed the disproportionate number of murders in Winnipeg, relative to its very small population. Lone Primate noted the very small sample size, and how easily numbers that small become distorted, which is true. But Kyle pointed out that crime in Winnipeg is disproportionate to its population, that the province has high levels of poverty and crime relative to Canada. (See his comment for a Wikipedia entry about this).

Yesterday Canada's new Governor General visited an inner city school there, talked with students, listened to them, hung out with them. Having worked with inner-city kids, I know what a visit like that means to them - this beautiful, accomplished, dark-skinned woman, once a refugee herself, now in a position of great status, paying attention to them, showing them possibilities. I can tell you, on an individual level, it means a lot. To hear Michaelle Jean, it might mean something on a policy level, too.

That, I don't know. I just really like her, and I dig the idea of the Queen's representative in Canada being a brown woman, a former journalist, a student of literature, and someone who has worked in the movement against violence against women. I loved that she started her Canadian tour in Manitoba, the geographic center of Canada, and was so up-close and personal with the people there.

Getting back to crime, I didn't have any big conclusion to draw - just that there is very little here, relative to the United States.

14 comments:

James said...

the population of Canada being so much smaller than that of the US, the percentage of Canadians living in the GTA is much, much higher than the percentage of Americans living in New York.

Kinda off topic, but I bring it back in line at the end:

I was flipping through Wikipedia and came across the article on megacities (which they use as synonymous with "megalopolis", not "amalgamated city" like Torontonians do) and was struck by one statistic:

The other GTA -- the Greater Tokyo Area -- has a population of 30 to 34 million. Which makes it as populous as Canada.

The high number is if you count all cities contiguous with Tokyo. The low number is the Japanese Statistic Bureau's official number, which cuts the count off at 50km from Tokyo's city hall.

A 50km circle centred on Toronto City Hall would pass through Burlington in the West, Oshaway in the East, and East Gwillimbury in the north. It would fall about 15km short of Orangeville as 12 short of Scugog. Imagine the entire population of Canada squished into that space! Even if we assume that all of the Greater Toronto Area population was within that radius, that would be a population density increase of six to seven times.

Returning to the topic at hand: Tokyo's murder rate is 1.7 per 100,000, compared to Toronto's 1.8 per 100,000. I think that's rather remarkable, given the crowding!

James said...

Really off-topic: I finally posted some of the photos I took in Port Credit when visiting.

Gazebo and Rainbow
This is the Gazebo in the Google Map I posted.

Pink and Blue
The view from the end of of the street.

Spider 1
A spider in the garden

Spider 2
Another spider

Kyle_From_Ottawa said...

just that there is very little here, relative to the United States.

I have to put a qualifier on that. Murder happens far less, but other crimes happen at similar rates to the U.S. (and other developed countries).

L-girl said...

Murder happens far less, but other crimes happen at similar rates to the U.S. (and other developed countries).

Really? Muggings, house break-ins, stranger sexual assaults?

I said I wasn't going to be in comments and now I am really gone...

Kyle_From_Ottawa said...

Really? Muggings, house break-ins, stranger sexual assaults?

From StatsCan
Per 100,000:

Murder: Canada 1.8, U.S. 5.5
Roberry: Canada 88.1, U.S. 135
Break and Enter: Canada 954, U.S. 728
Arson: Canada 45, U.S. 32
Aggravated Assault: Canada 143, US 324
Motor Vehicle Theft: Canada 521, US 414
Other Theft: Canada 2224, US 2475

L-girl said...

Thanks for the stats, Kyle.

James, those are fabulous photographs. You are really very good.

L-girl said...

Tokyo's murder rate is 1.7 per 100,000, compared to Toronto's 1.8 per 100,000. I think that's rather remarkable, given the crowding!

It kind of shoots a hole in that popular theory, doesn't it?

You know, the famous experiment where rats were forced to live in intolerably crowded conditions and became violent has been completely discredited. It turns out that the conditions in the cages, if transposed to humans, would be more dense than human living conditions have ever been anywhere, including NYC's Lower East Side (one of the most densely populated places of all times), the worst Victorian London slums, etc.

Yet the belief that overcrowding causes crime lives on for many people, stemming from that experiment. The next time I hear someone expound on that, I'll mention Tokyo!

Wrye said...

I think the Buddhist/Shintoist (Confucian) influence in Tokyo may help a lot, there.

And if I teach you readers nothing else about Japanese Culture, remember this: their religious and cultural values are specifically intended to help people get along in crowded areas without a lot of available land or social mobility.

Todd said...

I live in Fayetteville, NC. The locals call it Faytalville and Fayettenam. It sucks.

David Cho said...

The question is, what percentage of Canadians live in lakeside neighborhoods. OMG!!!

RobfromAlberta said...

The question is, what percentage of Canadians live in lakeside neighborhoods. OMG!!!

Canada has a ridiculous percentage of the world's total fresh water. You would be amazed.

James said...

I think the Buddhist/Shintoist (Confucian) influence in Tokyo may help a lot, there.

True, though one has to remember that the architects of Japan's late 19th/early 20th century expansionist adventures were pushing Shintoism, albeit it a rather extreme form.

L-girl said...

I live in Fayetteville, NC. The locals call it Faytalville and Fayettenam. It sucks.

Ugh.

Hi Todd, welcome to wtmc. I noticed you listed A People's History of the United States as your favorite book - great choice!!

The question is, what percentage of Canadians live in lakeside neighborhoods. OMG!!!

David Cho, you crack me up.

Lone Primate said...

Canada has a ridiculous percentage of the world's total fresh water. You would be amazed.

I heard a figure like 14% once when I was a kid... Such figures are probably very difficult to strictly quantify, but if that figure's anywhere near accurate, it is an impressive amount, particularly given that the population in possession of it amounts to about half of one percent of humanity.