According to a recent study in the journal Crime & Delinquency nearly half of black males and almost 40 percent of white males in the U.S. are arrested by age 23. As the study indicates, these arrests can “hurt their ability to find work, go to school and participate fully in their communities.” “The study is an analysis of national survey data from 1997 to 2008 of teenagers and young adults, ages 18-23, and their arrest histories, which run the gamut from truancy and underage drinking to more serious and violent offenses,” according to the press release. These results signal a possible dark future for our country.
Will there be national outrage at these arrest numbers? Doubtful. Some might argue that these numbers are simply a part of the ongoing narrative of the war on drugs and the criminalization of masculinity. Arguably, if the same percentages held for women, regardless of race, feminists would likely charge America with being “obviously” misogynistic. Do these numbers tell us anything about the country’s disposition toward men? Does it show us that misandry is truly legalized and flourishing as some have argued?
Perhaps these numbers should not be too much of a surprise given the fact that there is a war against boys in primary and secondary education with teaching styles and learning environments primarily focused on the advancement of girls and punitive to boys, over 20% of young boys labeled “ADHD,” the increase in single moms raising boys and the shortcomings that follow, a teen unemployment rate of 20%, in addition to failed “war on drugs” policies, and the like. Americans used to transition men into adulthood through family service, service in the church, a hard-working job, serving in the armed forces, and so on, but today the new initiation into manhood comes by standing in front of a judge.
Here are the study’s key findings:
By age 18, 30 percent of black males, 26 percent of Hispanic males and 22 percent of white males have been arrested.
By age 23, 49 percent of black males, 44 percent of Hispanic males and 38 percent of white males have been arrested.
While the prevalence of arrest increased for females from age 18 to 23, the variation between races was slight. At age 18, arrest rates were 12 percent for white females and 11.8 percent and 11.9 percent for Hispanic and black females, respectively. By age 23, arrest rates were 20 percent for white females and 18 percent and 16 percent for Hispanic and black females, respectively.
While there is likely no single cause that will provide an answer to the “why” question, it will be important to swim upstream as far as possible to get a sense of what is happening in our country. My guess is that these numbers are the result of some combination of family breakdown, unemployment, the “war on drugs,” and our nation’s burgeoning misandry. This means that a solution matrix will likely be just as differentiated as the causes.