Controlling Crime

In this section you are going to discuss the problem of how to control crime. Then you will listen to people express opinions about various crimes, decide how certain of their opinions the people are, and discuss whether or not you agree with them.


1 Read the following passage.

Violent crime has dropped in the United States in recent years, but the overall crime rate is still alarmingly high. Crime control is one of the most difficult and controversial subjects in sociology. People have very different beliefs about the best way to lower the crime rate.

Many people believe that the best way to control crime is to stop it from happening in the first place. This might mean developing educational and social programs to discourage young people from becoming involved in criminal activity, or having more

police officers on the streets. Other people think that the best way to control crime is to have tougher punishments. This might include haring stricter laws, more arrests, and longer prison terms.

Answer the following questions according to the information in the passage.

1 What are two different approaches to controlling crime?

2 How could educational and social programs help lower the crime rate?


Read these questions and share your answers with a partner.

1 Which of the two different approaches to controlling crime do you think is more effective? Why?

2 Do you think your community has a high crime rate or a low crime rate? Explain.


When people are discussing ideas, particularly if they are complex or controversial, you often have to listen closely to understand their opinions. You can hear how strongly a person feels about a topic by listening to the speakers words and the degree of certainty with which the words are spoken. Look at the following examples:

The speaker gives an opinion. / think. . .

/ believe. . .

/ feel that. . .

In my opinion. . .

The speaker is very sure of his or her opinion.

I really think. . .

/ really believe. . .

/ am convinced that. . .

I am certain that. . .

That’s an excellent idea!

That’s terrible!

That’s aw ful!

The speaker is not really sure of his or her opinion.

Mmm. . . well. . . let me see. . .

Well. . . maybe. . .

I don’t know. . .

I guess. . .

I’m not really sure, but. . .

1 Read the technical terms and definitions for various types of crime in the left column of the chart on page 115. Read the examples of each type of crime in the right column.

Type of crime


1 Assault and robbery (attacking someone and stealing their possessions)

A group of teenagers between the ages of 15 and 17 attack an old man as he walks home. They steal his wallet and beat him with a baseball bat, leaving him unconscious on the sidewalk.

2 Abduction (taking a person against his ot­her will)

A woman who is divorced from her husband secretly takes the couples 13-year-old son and runs off with him to another country. The father and mother share custody of the son.

3 Vandalism (destroying property)

Some teenagers break into a school cafeteria and smash all the plates. Then they spray paint the walls.

4 Delinquent payment (not paying money that you owe)

A couple who are renting an apartment have not paid their rent for the last three months.

5 Impersonation / Breaking and entering (pretending to be someone else and entering somewhere illegally)

A man knocks on the door of an elderly womans house, pretending to be a TV repairman. Once inside, he asks to use the bathroom, but, instead, he goes into the bedroom and steals money and jewelry.

6 False ID (having identification papers that identify you as someone else)

An 18-year-old makes a copy of his Mend’s college ID. He uses it to pretend that he is 21.


Listen to people express their opinions about the crimes in step 1. what they say and the degree of certainty with which they express Circle the degree of certainty that the speaker expresses.


Listen carefully to their opinions.



Not sure



Not sure



Not sure



Not sure



Not sure



Not sure


Compare your answers with a partner. Then tell your partner about any of the cases where you disagree with the people you heard.


In this section you will hear David, a young man who works with high school students before they go to college, talk about the importance of preventing juvenile crime. Then Amy will give a lawyers perspective on crime control.

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