Schools as generators of crime: Routine activities and the sociology of place
The study of places has recently gained new prominence as a topic for study by sociologists and criminologists. This study continues the evolution of the merger of social disorganization theories and opportunity theories in explaining the crime potential of place. The criminal opportunity framework is used to examine the influence of schools on neighborhood variations in rates of violence. To examine neighborhood violent crime, the study develops a model of opportunity factors that is divided into three variable clusters or constructs grounded in routine activity theory and social disorganization theory. The constructs represent (1) the risk associated with the physical space or setting, (2) the potential for surveillance or guardianship, and (3) potential for motivated offenders to be present. The first goal is to determine how the opportunity constructs affect violence. Here, the research seeks to answer, "What are the contributions of routine activity and social disorganization constructs to block-level violence?" The second goal is to determine whether and how the presence of schools changes any relationship found between violence and opportunity across neighborhoods. To do this, the study uses dummy variables to characterize. The study examines block-level rates of reported incidents of violent crime across all census blocks in Prince George's County, Maryland. Secondary data collected from a number of sources were used to define the opportunity constructs. The analysis plan is based on the creation of a geographic information system that attributes all data to census blocks. Instrumental variable regression is used to estimate spatial lag models of violent crime. The findings support the research hypotheses. Social disorganization variables and routine activity variables influence block-level violent crime rates. Furthermore, schools were found to be generators of crime during the school day. During the after-school period, blocks near schools characterized by resource deprivation experienced even higher rates of violent crime. During the morning commute, blocks near schools characterized as disorderly exhibited higher violent crime rates than blocks near orderly schools. Examination of interaction effects found some significant relationships indicating support for theory integration.