Unexpectedly Intriguing!
June 12, 2014
Social Networking and Crime - Source: http://www.cybercrimereview.com/2012/04/social-networking-actions-lead-to.html

We've noted before that most murder victims in the United States are often demographically-related to their murderers, but did you know that they would also appear to be even more closely linked on their social networks?

A new study of gun violence in Chicago, led by Yale sociologist Andrew Papachristos, reveals that a person's social network is a key predictor in whether an individual will become a victim of gun homicide, even more so than race, age, gender, poverty, or gang affiliation.

"Risk factors like race and poverty are not the predictors they have been assumed to be," said Papachristos, "It's who you hang out with that gets you into trouble. It's tragic, but not random."

The study, co-authored with Christopher Wildeman from the Yale Department of Sociology, likens gun violence to a blood-borne pathogen. In the analysis, published Nov. 14 in The American Journal of Public Health, Papachristos notes that crime, like a disease, follows certain patterns. People in the same social network, he said, are more likely to engage in similar risky behaviors—like carrying a firearm or taking part in criminal activities—which increases the probability of victimization.

The abstract of Papachristos and Wildeman's paper puts some numbers behind what they found:

Combining 5 years of homicide and police records, we analyzed a network of 3718 high-risk individuals that was created by instances of co-offending. We used logistic regression to model the odds of being a gunshot homicide victim by individual characteristics, network position, and indirect exposure to homicide. Results. Forty-one percent of all gun homicides occurred within a network component containing less than 4% of the neighborhood’s population. Network-level indicators reduced the association between individual risk factors and homicide victimization and improved the overall prediction of individual victimization. Network exposure to homicide was strongly associated with victimization: the closer one is to a homicide victim, the greater the risk of victimization. Regression models show that exposure diminished with social distance: each social tie removed from a homicide victim decreased one’s odds of being a homicide victim by 57%.

The bottom line: the more space there is between you and a criminal, the better.

Other Food for Thought

In some U.S. cities with high murder rates, such as Milwaukee, Baltimore, Chicago (the current U.S. homicide capital), New Orleans, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Washington D.C., and even smaller towns like Flint, Michigan, a very large percentage of the victims of firearm-related homicides have criminal records, which means these homicides really involve criminals killing criminals.

Meanwhile, about 1 out of 8 homicide offenders serving time in U.S. prisons have been diagnosed with mental illnesses.

One might reasonably wonder then if what we have is not so much an inadequately-controlled firearm problem as it is an inadequately-controlled criminal and mentally-ill population problem. And maybe the real question you need to answer with respect to your own personal safety is who do you know who falls in both categories?


Andrew V. Papachristos and Christopher Wildeman. (2013). Network Exposure and Homicide Victimization in an African American Community. American Journal of Public Health. e-View Ahead of Print. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2013.301441. [Abstract].

Image Credit: Cyber Crime Review.


About Political Calculations

blog advertising
is good for you

Welcome to the blogosphere's toolchest! Here, unlike other blogs dedicated to analyzing current events, we create easy-to-use, simple tools to do the math related to them so you can get in on the action too! If you would like to learn more about these tools, or if you would like to contribute ideas to develop for this blog, please e-mail us at:

ironman at politicalcalculations.com

Thanks in advance!

Recent Posts


This year, we'll be experimenting with a number of apps to bring more of a current events focus to Political Calculations - we're test driving the app(s) below!

Most Popular Posts
Quick Index

Site Data

This site is primarily powered by:

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Visitors since December 6, 2004:

CSS Validation

Valid CSS!

RSS Site Feed

AddThis Feed Button


The tools on this site are built using JavaScript. If you would like to learn more, one of the best free resources on the web is available at W3Schools.com.

Other Cool Resources

Blog Roll

Market Links
Charities We Support
Recommended Reading
Recommended Viewing
Recently Shopped

Seeking Alpha Certified

Legal Disclaimer

Materials on this website are published by Political Calculations to provide visitors with free information and insights regarding the incentives created by the laws and policies described. However, this website is not designed for the purpose of providing legal, medical or financial advice to individuals. Visitors should not rely upon information on this website as a substitute for personal legal, medical or financial advice. While we make every effort to provide accurate website information, laws can change and inaccuracies happen despite our best efforts. If you have an individual problem, you should seek advice from a licensed professional in your state, i.e., by a competent authority with specialized knowledge who can apply it to the particular circumstances of your case.