MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A Department of Justice report found that more people became victims of violent crime during the months of June, July and August over a 17-year period.
Dr. Amaia Iratzoqui is a criminology professor at the University of Memphis and said there are several reasons why criminal behavior increases when it is hot outside. Increased irritability and a lower tolerance level caused can be a bad combination.
“In our warmer temperatures, there are way less ways to resolve feeling uncomfortable,” Iratzoqui said. “So when conflict arises, occurs during this period, it is more likely to escalate into aggressive behavior.”
Compared to autumn weather, rape and sexual assault rates tend to be 9% higher in the summer. Rates of domestic violence were also up by 12%
“That weather irritability is not going to be just imitated to people you see outside the home,” Iratzoqui said. “It is also going to be tied to folks that you see on a daily basis which is your loved ones.”
Household burglaries were up by almost 11% during the same period. Teenagers are also out of school during the summer, and all of them are not involved in summer programs. Dr. Iratzoqui said when it is this hot outside, it only adds to the problem.
“Their parents are not getting summer vacations, their family members are not getting summer vacation,” she said. “They are going to be without much to do in a time period where if they are outside, they are going to be just as exposed to the heat.”
Iratzoqui said Memphis is a great place to live, and she feels if the city and Shelby County can focus on improving social conditions, it would go a long way to reduce crime.
“Crime is going to occur anywhere” she said. “It is a matter of how we respond to it that is going to make the difference for the future.”
She also said having children involved in summer activities can help keep them safe and out of trouble.