Violence, as we all know, is an act of aggression intended to cause great harm to another person. Youth violence, committed by 10 to 24-year-olds, is a major public health problem. Every day in America, about 13 young people are murdered. Add to that 1,642 visits to the ER per day by youth injured in physical assault. The cost measured in human lives is astounding. Measured in dollars, that cost is estimated to be $17.5 billion, consisting of medical care and loss of productivity.
There are many determinants that contribute to youth violence. According to the CDC, one broad determinant is poverty. It is well known that experiencing poverty leads to antisocial behavior. The determinant of poverty is often overlooked because Americans are uncomfortable talking about it. Furthermore, politicians often ignore poverty in order to target their message to a larger swath of middle-class voters.
Currently, the focus for preventing youth violence is on modifying behaviors (anger management, dispute resolution), improving parenting skills, and strengthening community. Despite implementation of programs that address these issues, the problem of youth violence lingers.
One way to address poverty is through a policy approach that supports a Universal Basic Income (UBI). In Chicago, Alderman Ameya Pawar proposed a pilot UBI to provide some low-income families $500 a month. This money would help alleviate the burden of poverty, which leads to stress, parents working three jobs instead of being available for their children, and, as mentioned above, antisocial behavior.
Several pilot studies of UBI have been implemented around the world. In Manitoba, Canada (1974-1979) recipients of UBI had less hospitalization, specifically related to depression and anxiety. In India (2011), results included “improved living conditions, nutrition, health, and school attendance."
Universal Basic Income could change the social fabric of our beautiful city by lifting families out of poverty and preventing youth violence. Ameya Pawar is running for Chicago treasurer in the 2019 election.
Bushman, BJ Newman, K Calvert, SL, et al. (2016). Youth Violence: What We Know and What We Need to Know. American Psychologist, 71(1),17-39. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0039687
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Thigpen, D. (2018, August 23). Universal basic income could redress the high cost of underemployment in Chicago. Chicago Reporter. Retrieved from