“…He was everywhere. Glowering from the cover of newsweeklies. Swaggering his way through foot-thick government reports. He was a scrawny, big-city teenager with a cheap gun in his hand and nothing but ruthlessness in his heart. There were thousands out there like him.”
That is an excerpt from the book Freakonomics by Steven Levitt. It refers to the generation of killers in the 1990’s that was plunging the USA into chaos. By then, the rate of teen homicides was on the rise and it was believed, that in the next decade it would rise by 15 percent (in an optimistic scenario) or it would more than double (pessimistic scenario). Criminologists and other similarly learned forecasters predicted the same horrible future. Clinton was worried about this, but it seemed they couldn’t come up with any solution.
Then something that no one had expected happened. Crime began to fall. And fall and fall some more. Instead of doubling or rising by 15 percent, teenage homicides fell by 50 percent. By 2000 the murder rate in the USA had dropped to its lowest level in thirty-five years alongside other crimes. People tried to explain the crime drop but all their theories were not true. It was because of a young woman in Dallas named Norma McCovey.
It is said that a butterfly that flaps wings on one continent, may eventually cause a hurricane on another. 20 years earlier Norma had altered the course of events without intending to. She was a poor, uneducated, unskilled, alcoholic, drug-using twenty-one-year-old woman, who had already given up two children for adoption and had now found herself pregnant again in 1970. The state of Texas didn’t allow abortion then, but people more powerful than her adopted her case and made her the lead plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit to legalize abortion. Her case eventually made it to the supreme court, and the court ruled in her favor, allowing legalized abortion throughout the rest of the country.
So how did her case, help reducing crime a generation later?
Studies have shown that if a child is born into an adverse family environment, they are more likely than other children to become a criminal. And most women likely to have an abortion in Norma’s time were just like her poor, unmarried, teenage mothers: Models of adversity. They were women whose children if born, would eventually end up becoming criminals. They would end up being profiled as “scrawny, big-city teenagers with nothing but ruthlessness in their hearts.” Years later, just as these unborn children would have entered their criminal primes, the rate of crime begun to plummet.
So maybe the same thing should be done in Kenya. It has more benefits. Because the way crime is handled nowadays, is by shooting down these teenage criminals. As is evident by the way Hessy Wa Kayole, Hessy wa Dandora na Hessy wa Mathare take them down. (Those are the only Hessies I know.) But whenever one is killed another one will rise up and replace him. And this will be a continuous cycle because children will still be born, in such adverse family environments. We’d better nip the bud in the head by legalizing abortion. We should also not bury our heads in the sand, and ignore the fact that young girls still have abortions through quacks and they often pay dearly for that, with some losing their lives in the process.
What is your view on this issue?