Approaches to Social Problems Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Social Problems become Policy Problems

A social problem is a situation where people deviate from some social beliefs, which a group of people cherishes. Different societies experience different social problems, and this explains why there have been substantial studies on this subject. In addition, social problems differ by degree, and this is why some social problems have resulted to formulation of public policies in an effort to control the social menace. In a society, the public are the last people to identify that a social problem exists (Iganski, 2001).

There are common aspects used by analysts to determine if the problem is a social issue, but they are diverse, and depend on the problem at hand. However, there are aspects such as the existence of an objective condition, followed by a subjective assessment, which helps to verify that the social issue is adverse, destructive, or immoral. In addition, the objective condition must be verifiable, and this means that the analysts, including social workers can provide a description concerning its nature (Burn, & Peyrot, 2010).

However, the most important of all is that the members of the society must be in a position to describe the social problem, and they have to view it as undesirable because it goes against the society's norms. In most of the developed countries, social problems are rampant, but they vary from country to country. Most of the social problems often attract the public attention and later on call for national intervention. When the social problem calls for national intervention, it then attracts a formulation of policies to help control the social problem (Rainwater 1974).

Hate Crime Problem

Across the world, instances of violence occur at different degrees. In some societies across the globe, violence is a prevalent problem, but occurs at different rates. Nonetheless, it is a significant problem because actions behind it are against the values of humanity. Hate crime is popularly known as bias or hate-motivated violence, which is not a new occurrence. Hate crime or bias violence was a problem in the past, and at present it is still felt in some parts of the world (Petrosino, 1999).

It is acceptable to suggest that it is a problem in the 21st century, which calls for public policy, legal consideration, and punitive reaction. The problem of hate crime appears in a variety of literature including FBI reports, sociology, psychology, and others (Shwirtz, 2014). Since the 1960s, the society showed concern regarding the problems the minorities faced in America. This led to the development of a new area of social research, which focused on the victims, rather than the perpetrators of the crime. Hate crime as a problem, refers to injustices that target particular people, organization, religion, sexual identities and race.

The crimes included arson of homes, businesses, places of worship, harassment, rape, homicides and personal assaults. Violence has adverse effects on the victims, which may result to psychological problems, death, and many other issues. In most cases, people sustain injuries, but others have to be hospitalized to treat the harm they undergo. Minority groups, who are always the targets of this violence, tend to relocate, decrease social participation, purchase guns and increase safety measures because of the likelihood of attacks (Ephros & Barnes, 1994).

These behavioral changes help them cope with the problem in case it arises again. Prior research and current research show consistency in the intensity of the hate crime problem, and in both cases, the studies agree that hate crime is a significant problem based on its effects. In addition, the communities involved accept that the problem is far much their reach, and, therefore, they are powerless. This is why the society, in general, has come to the rescue using social workers (Ephros & Barnes, 1994).

Hate Crime as a Social Problem

In North Carolina, white men killed a Chinese-American man using a broken bottle and the butt of a gun. In response, the two white men said that they attacked the Chinese-American man because they hated "Orientals" (Jennessis & Broad, 2001). In another situation, two teenagers violated a synagogue in the New York. The two male teenagers spray-painted swastikas on the synagogue's walls, set fire, and burned six Torah scrolls, even with their knowledge of how the Jews would feel. The Jews felt that such acts were equivalent to murder (Jennessis & Broad, 2001). Still, in Concord, California, an activist on AIDs received frequent telephone threats; this included a bomb threat, in both his house and his workplace.

A specific caller said that the activist should leave town, and called the activist a faggot. In addition, threats were meant to make him leave the town, and one caller advised that they would harm the friend to the activist on failure to leave. Therefore, the activist left the town. In another case, three men raped two females in the University of Nebraska. A review of the literature concerning the issues as such on the social level shows that there are many other cases about hate crime in the United States of America (Jennessis & Broad, 2001).

There are many questions that one may ask, but overall, hate crime, although more prevalent in the past, has some traces in the 21st century (Jennesis, 2004). Hate Crime in the U.S.A. had reached to a level where the victims and other whites formed social movements to protest against the social injustices. The social movements aimed to show that the society had recognized the issue as a societal problem, which they could not control, and called for the government to intervene. Back in the 1970s, there were many cases of rape, arson, and assault. This led to the development of anti-hate campaigns in an attempt to address the injustices against the minorities who were the main victims (Illarraza & Anlge, 2001).

The cases raised debates, which led to movements on both the left and right with an aim of redefining violence perpetrated due to bigotry "bias-motivated violence (Levin & McDevitt, 1993). The supporters felt that the violence posed other risks and consequences beyond the pain and suffering of the victim, mainly because the terror involved the whole community (Perry, 2003). In so doing, this bigoted violence was considered a social problem affecting minorities such as Jews, immigrants, blacks, women, disabled persons, gays, and lesbians, among the many minorities.

Hate Crime as a National Issue

The many cases of hate crimes in America reached alarming rates, and efforts to provide a solution at the society level often failed. This is because the hate was intense, and fueled other hate cases, which resulted to increase in hate crimes. In addition, the alarming rates reached a level at which the government recognized hate crime as a national problem due to the many anti-hate movements, including social movements and debates on the media. This led to increased attention in the political agendas of policymakers in the government, in an effort to address the problem from a national level (McDevitt, 2001).

The social problem led to the formation of anti-hate groups, or rather the public responded through them. One typical example of the social movement group is The Center for Democratic Renewal, an organization that was the first to bring the problem of hate crimes to the national level. In so doing, the U.S. Commission on Human Rights responded by calling for forums in the most affected states in the U.S. (Reno e.t al., 1999). This was just another stage of the process, where the government officials went there to confirm that the social problem existed.

Other stakeholders, such as the media also played a contributory role by showing the aftermaths of hate crimes. The media showed what was left of burnt churches in some states of America (Hodge, 2011). The issue reached the political arena, and raised further debates, and the problem became a public policy issue. Therefore, as a public policy problem, there were several policies formulated in an effort to control the social problem. For instance, there was the Hate Crime Statistics Act, Hate Crime Sentencing Enhancement Act, Church Arsons Prevention Act and the Civil Rights Act (Lieberman, 1995).

In response, states of America opted to combat the crimes using the law, and other states opted to publicize policies and procedures in an effort to address the social problem. During the late 1980s, when the cases of hate crime were many, the government identified that the social problem existed. The congress passed the Hate Crime Act to keep track of the problem because it had become a public national issue (Kaplar, 1993). Apparently, the law enforcement officers were to take charge, and initiate investigations to identify and respond to the hate crimes.

In an effort to further track the hate crimes, agencies were formed, and people were encouraged to report cases of violence of the kind. The government gathered much information on the incidences, leading to formulation of other public policies in an effort to regulate the hate-crime problem. Therefore, this shows that the…

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